I Joined the Gym

That’s right! You’re looking at a full-fledged, add-on member of 24 Hour Fitness! I can go at 3:AM to lift weights, now, if I want to. Awake at 2:AM with insomnia? No problem- I can go run on a treadmill at my gym! Or down in my garage. Isn’t it funny that buying a complete home gym still didn’t preclude me from joining a gym? I never, in a million years, thought I’d be even remotely interested in a gym until Zumba. There I was, thinking I was just going to support my friends and fell in luuuurve. So now you know where to find me around 4:30 on Tuesdays and Fridays!
What made me finally decide to join?
1. I felt it when I missed the fun on Tuesday. Like, bad. I knew everyone was there breaking a sweat and I really wanted to be a part of that.
2. I learned about a deal they had this month where I could waive all of the joining fees and simply ‘add on’ to a friend’s membership. Julie let me tag onto her membership and it’s only 30 dollars a month!
3. With the add on, my membership is month by month. I don’t have to commit to more than that, so if I don’t use it all summer I don’t have to pay either!
4. I lost two pounds last week along with everyone else. If I can even come close to that for the next seven weeks, I could totally be in the 180’s the next time I go to California. Uhm… Where do I sign up?
I’m totally excited and am planning on visiting on Tuesdays and Fridays for the next seven weeks. In between, I think I can get two runs in per week with Bradley, maybe three, and training for my 10K should be easy. I’m so stoked. This could be the final countdown!!! LOL!
I do, however, admit to a little bit of fear when it comes time to quit the gym…

A friend of mine recently posted a link to my Facebook timeline with this comment:
“I love this message … “Never Surrender” not just for weight lose, but for life. It is my new life motto. You have inspired so many people and thought maybe you’d like to see this.”
I was just floored. It’s amazing to me that people might look at me and feel the way I felt about her when I watched this video. I don’t go out seeking things like this, which is strange since I’m very interested in stories like my own. People who have lost over 100 pounds are common enough that everyone knows someone, but uncommon enough that the bigger losers are noteworthy. We are more rare than I think and her story, like mine, is just amazing as an observer. She started at 345, I started at 340. It is weird though, quite honestly. I don’t quite ‘see’ myself all of the time and the change that has taken place. I kind of just do this thing that, from the outside might look miraculous, or would have to me when I was sitting at 340. From the inside though it just feels like life. Living. Honestly, though? It is pretty amazing, what I’ve done. I need to own that.

YouTube-a Zumba

I’ve got the itch. The Zumba itch. A lot of it has to do with this fact: every one of us who went to Zumba twice last week lost at least two pounds. Related or unrelated, I don’t care. Facts are facts, though, and those particular facts made me want to scratch my Zumba itch… That and the fact that my comrades returned to the gym today. But there’s still the issue of that pesky gym membership… What’s a modern girl (who is ridiculously cheap) to do who wants her Zumba for free? YouTube! So, today, I zoomed home to Zumba in my living room!

The following are the YouTube videos we found and used today:

We did this one, but found it to be a little confusing. There were a lot of parts where I kind of went freestyle and focused just on keeping my body moving and blood pumping.

This is where we started getting inspired…

And then we got really excited about this one!

A solid workout, here!

Gigi and I liked this one a lot. These people were really fun with their enthusiasm and we started seeking out their videos intentionally.

We thought this one went on and on and were uninspired by the music or moves, but it could be good for a cool down routine.

These people were our favorite! We are totally seeking them out for more. Now we have a fantasy that we will seemlessly learn these routines and will execute them effortlessly… πŸ™‚
(And I think it’s safe to say I won’t be wearing that tank top to work out anywhere except inside my house!)

Lunge Overload

I came home on Friday pretty inspired by my Zumba workout. I have avoided too much lunging because my knees creak, groan and crack like crazy so bending them excessively has always seemed like a bad idea. On Friday, though, I realized that my thighs are pretty strong after weighing so much then starting running at 260… I guess they can handle a lot these days and I didn’t have any problems with all the lunging during the class. So, on Friday night, I started lunge walking – meaning taking big steps that go low- all over the house. I stood behind the couch watching TV in a wide-lunge position and even found myself making dinner with my legs wide apart, bent at the knees, slowly going up and down to make my thighs burn. There’s nothing like vacant time, just standing in one spot stirring dinner at the stove- a perfect time to do some lunges…

So, I was feeling pretty good. On Saturday I continued the pattern- lunging and dipping everywhere I went. By Saturday afternoon I was feeling pretty clever and smug. My thighs were burning and sore and I hadn’t even done an official workout aside from a two miler at St. Ed’s. I put on Sinead O’Connor’s album, Nothing Compares 2 U, and was singing, lunging and dancing with my dog, feeling great when all of the sudden, in the middle of Emperor’s New Clothes, deep in my booty, something twanged. I wasn’t even dancing or moving when it happened- I was just petting Martha! At first I thought I had a charley horse cramp, but I couldn’t stretch it out or rub it out, it just stayed. And hurt. Then it hurt some more. And all night it hurt- while I ate, sat, slept, rolled over- everything. I feared the worse, that a doctor would have to get involved, but at this point today I’m feeling better and think if I take a few days off of exercise for my hip/butt, I should recover as long as I don’t push it. But then I’m going to be right back to it. I like lunging all over the place. I really like using time that would otherwise be used in a nonproductive kind of way- kind of like getting my workout done when I’m at school- double duty!
So how did I feel about having to sit around all day smash booking and cuddling with my kids while watching the final Hobbit movie and letting my behind heal? Pretty darn good.


Today was day two of Zumba. I’ll admit to not being terribly enthusiastic this time until I saw that we had gained two more people from work, Kristi and Tanya, and all of the sudden the party was back! Mostly I was just tired from the long,long, loooooonnng week. Little did I know that it only takes a few moments of Zumba before one is sold on it all over again. There was a different instructor this time and she was way more into hip-hop and really fast, quick shifting, booty shaking moves. If I thought I fell behind on Tuesday, today made it certain that I’m not someone who easily picks up dance moves and routines! I tell you what, I’m watching and counting and just getting lost and trying so hard and just getting lost some more! I’m so grateful for my supportive comrades who continue to tell me I’m doing it with grace and dignity… Ha! I know that over time I would eventually pick up the routines… And I kind of want to be the person who knows all the routines… But I don’t know, still. It costs a lot and I hate to buy in and fail to use it or something. I’m such a wimp. Lol. Bradley just told me to stop agonizing and do it already. πŸ˜‰

The two best parts of Zumba today were the hip-hop song part where our instructor shared a new song and routine that she planned on incorporating into a new class that starts next week. We were in a squat position for much of it, raising a weight and going up at down. The instructor had nice, big thighs, and we all know how much I want to fill in my saggy thigh skin with nice, big, muscular thighs, and I realized that squats are a path to that end. So, you’ll see me squatting a bit more from now on.
The other part I liked was a point during two songs when we got to free step, or whatever it’s called when suddenly during a dance one gets to choose what to do… At one point we literally had to kind of stop to wave and swirl our hands in one another’s faces. Since there were a whole bunch of us newbies there we didn’t know quite when to stop (at least I didn’t) or wave and all of our timing was off and we were whirling around waving… It ended up being a pretty funny moment!

I got home, ate dinner, hopped on the sale and weighed 197! Switching it up definitely helped me out this week. I lost two pounds and am feeling pretty good! I’m always under 200 pounds when I have weighed myself over the past few days and that is definitely a new thing!
We topped off the night by laying on my kids’ school’s gym floor for the duration of Big Hero 6. It was super fun for some, headache inducing for some, a wrestle and fart-fest for some, but definitely something interesting that happened in our life. I couldn’t hear the movie nor see it well, so I chatted and caught up with a friend of mine who is abandoning the coolest state in the union in a few weeks to move to Philly. I’m glad we went but I’m not terribly excited about repeating the experience.

Surprise! 198!

(null)I’ve been surprised by this week. I planned on letting myself take the week off because I predicted a fairly stressful week ahead and didn’t feel the need to add guilt stress of not working out or exhaustion stress for pushing myself too hard. (I had my evaluation on Tuesday and will hear back about it tomorrow…) After Zumba on Tuesday, I ran on the treadmill on Wednesday and tomorrow I’m going back to Zumba with the posse! I’m still sore in my abs from all that thrusting on Tuesday. I had no idea Zumba would do that to me. Anyhow, it was a pretty darn good week! My extra effort showed on the scale, too, with an all-time new low of 198.4! I even hopped on and off a few times to make sure the scale was reading right! Woot woot! That made me feel pretty good!

Bradley texted this picture to me today. It was taken just a little less than four years ago- after I had already started losing weight. Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come and how short of a time ago it was that I lived a very different life. πŸ™‚


{THANK YOU, ladies. It was a blast. To the point that I’m a little emotional about it and the connections I made with you all tonight.}
Today I finally made it to Zumba!!! Julie, one of my friends from work, has been inviting me to come to class with her and another friend from work, Laurie, and I just never got it together- either my cycle was off from theirs, one of us was getting our evaluation that week, it was a busy week… We came up with lots of reasonable excuses why it just wasn’t working. Then, I was set to go last week, things fell through, and all of the sudden there was this moment where all the stars aligned and suddenly it wasn’t just me going, we were two more with Christina and Jessica, too, for today! It became a must-attend event, so I packed my gym bag and got ready.
I walked into the exercise studio without a clue as to what to expect. I had taken the wrong route to the most impossible-ever-to-find toilet- I actually stopped and asked a topless woman in the locker room where the toilets were before I made it to the gym (I’m sorry, ma’am- I was in a hurry and didn’t even process your state of undress until I was in the stall and realized what the strange look on your face meant… )! By the time I made it to Zumba, it had started and I joined Julie and Laurie, the experienced ones, who were full of grace as they easily executed the moves our instructor was showing.
They made it look sooooo easy. We all laughed a lot- but not at anyone. It was just ridiculously FUN! I smiled for most of the time. Well, I’ll admit that maybe we laughed a little at ourselves and the folly of trying to get the moves down. Honestly, I couldn’t have laughed at anyone else anyhow if I had wanted to. I didn’t have time! I could not look away from our instructor or the woman in front of me for a moment. In, at least this particular Zumba class, the moves don’t repeat as much as I’m used to. I’m sure after a while of doing the class that you’d get used to it, but it wasn’t set up in Jillian Michael’s kinds of circuits; it was fresh, over and over, and just when I’d get the hang of one step we’d start a different one! And just when I’d think that I was getting this Zumba thing down, the song would switch and some bizarro double-time-kick-up-your-heels-while-also-spinning-and-doing-long-division-in-mid-air* move would be introduced. If I couldn’t get it by watching, I’d count like a dancer in 3:4 time and if I still couldn’t get it I would just hop around in place to keep my blood flowing. I felt silly doing the wrong thing, but I’d have felt sillier standing still or getting frustrated.
I want to join the gym. I never thought I’d say that. I loved the class and am trying to finagle a way to procure 300 in spare pocket change to go toward a two year membership that’s available at Costco right now. Decisions, decisions. If I went once a week, only during the school year, the price would average out to about 5.00 per class, but I’m pretty sure I could use it more. The gain is the friendship connections in addition to the class. These are good people who I played with today and I’d like to spend more time with them, but I suck at maintaining friendships outside of work. This could be a way to do that. The downside is that Bradley and I are workout buddies and it would be more hours away from the babies. We rely on one another for that partnership and I hate to think of him missing workouts without me. And kid life. It flies fast and an hour seems like nothing until they are all compounded and you realize you chose to spend days away from them… Over-think things much, Tamara???
Like I said, decisions, decisions…
And yes. I am the person who asks all of her comrades to pose for a sweaty-faced post-workout picture because I think that a sweaty, post-workout face is a beautiful, proud and happy face.

*made up- not a real move.

It’s All Good

{the days have been full of sunshine, inside and out}
A friend texted me yesterday and asked if everything is okay. Then a friend at work did the same today. I put two and two together and realized I haven’t posted much lately! Things have been pretty quiet here…
Yes, quiet on my blog, but not in life. I’m entering the time of year that feels like it should be easy-breezy-summertime-goodness, but really it’s a lot of wrapping things up, getting things done and partying while you do it- a lot like Christmas! Insane but happy! So, while I haven’t been busy doing lame stuff, I’ve been at threat level midnight of busy-ness for mostly fun stuff like family visits, mall trips, date nights, music performances… The result has been not to much of the taking care of me, stuff like running or paying close attention to my diet. I haven’t gained anything, that’s for sure. In fact, I’m so busy that I’m finding time to eat to be scarce right now. Today I ate two veggie sausages, three veggie chik nuggets and one coffee- that’s total for the day- a horrible diet! I made up for it tonight, but that’s just to illustrate my crazy days.
So it’s all good. I’m just so busy checking things off lists that blogging and running have fallen to the wayside.
(Truth be absolutely confided, I’m also in the middle of my final observation/evaluation this week. While I’m not really worried – I believe in my abilities as a teacher- it’s still tremendously stressful to stand under the microscope for inspection and invite criticism. I feel the impact weighing oppressively down on me; when it’s gone, life can resume as normal and I can focus elsewhere. I hadn’t realized I was even bothered until last night!)

Beat the Blerch 10K

I love The Oatmeal online comic. I’ve long though the writer, Matthew Inman, is funny in a sincere/cynical/truthful kind of way, I like the way he stands up for himself, I like the way he writes about history… I like him. And then I found out he was a runner and I got really excited when he posted about running long distances, and, really, running all distances because running is hard when it’s hard, no matter the distance! It was hard when I ran for 30 seconds and it was hard when I ran for seven miles. It’s hard when you’re running at any point that you’re pushing yourself. And I love it. I love how I feel after a run. I love the feeling I get after a week or two of consistent running. I love the feeling after I’ve completed a race and I love the feeling of security that I get from being able to endure some time and distance running. I love the way it chases away depression and anxiety. I love what running has done for my body, but I really love that it helped me beat my own personal blerch.

Last year I found out about the Beat the Blerch 10K/Half/Full Marathon far too long after registration was filled and closed. I was sad, thinking of all those people trucking through Carnation, Washington… But this year my friend Jessica just happened to post it to Facebook AND I MADE IT IN! I’m running in the Oatmeal Beat the Blerch 10K!!!! I’m at the stupid level of excitement. I don’t care at all about the cupcakes or magical purple beverage, but I care a lot about the beautiful trail and the actual blerches who will be chasing us along!!! Bwa-ha-hahahaha! I can’t wait!!! Sunday, September 12th, I’ll be there running my 6.2 miles. I can totally do that.

I went on a walk today, just Martha and me. This view made me smile. The wind was blowing and I stood in a shower of petals- it was absolutely lovely. The seven year old in me loved it just as much as the 41 year old I am. πŸ˜‰

Happiness Is…

Happiness is NOW.
Happiness is happening to me right now in a big way and it feels just amazing. I haven’t felt this good in about three and a half years. Maybe longer, but that’s about when I triggered big time and started struggling mightily with depression and anxiety.
But not now.

Why am I so happy? Sometimes it’s the little things. Like the little Starbucks espresso shots with cream? They jolt me back to life for the second half of my workday and taste like liquid chocolate. Also? The fossil necklace? Bradley bought it for me as a spring-break/geology-nerd reawakening and I have been surprised, on several occasions, that it glows. I haven’t had glow-in-the-dark jewelry given to me by a boy, who I regularly crush on, for a few years. It makes me smile and I authentically like my glow glob necklace. Ha! And my kids. Sheesh. I’m in one of those super-crushy, crazy-about-my-kids, I-can’t-believe-I-had-anything-to-do-with-something-this-beautiful, what-a-privilege-to-be-their-mom kind of phase. They’re not little things, though. They are, perhaps, the biggest and most important things in my life. I decided, for them, to choose my attitude and not default to getting mad or rage-y anymore and it’s working. I’m nicer, I like myself better, they’re more relaxed, so am I… Beneficial to all. I’m not a ‘mad’ person, per se, but no matter what, anger or rage never feel good to anyone. It’s nice to actively work towards letting it go.
Work is amazing right now. I love my job, my class, my students, my coworkers- it’s just WONDERFUL there! My job is definitely tiring- today was day one of state testing with yours truly as the building coordinator, so lots to do- buts it’s also an incredibly rewarding job. I get to change lives. Today I got to work with four struggling kids on how to subtract with regrouping (formerly known as borrowing), a skill they will have for a lifetime. They got it today! That’s important work! Plus we are getting ready to perform a musical in my class. Today they shared what parts they want, what songs they love and enthused over set design, props and costumes. REAL LEARNING was happening that is FUN! Then they begged me to do more research on their insect reports. Seriously. “Pleeeeeaaase, Mrs. Littlejohn? Can we stay in from recess for Brainworks? Pleeeease??” It’s just all so unbelievably good.
And I keep on weighing in just fine. Today I’m at 200.6. I won’t complain about that one bit. I haven’t worked out since Sunday. It’s ok. πŸ˜‰
Like I said: I’m so HAPPY!

So Long Spring Break!

I had a great Spring Break. People always lament to me that my kids have a spring break the week after mine, how sad that must be, but I love it. As a mom, it’s rare to get time away from my kids at all. I like being around them and am hyper aware of how quickly this parenting young children deal is whizzing by at an alarming rate. As a teacher and mom, I’m surrounded by children all the time– and I wouldn’t change it! Seriously! I love being around children. Most of the time… But even chocolate gets tiring when you’ve had too much of it, and Spring Break is the freebie motherload of childless hours unlike any that I’ve ever experienced since giving birth 11 years ago. It’s like a week long date with my husband and I get to be a stay at home mom for a week and get to experience the joys of dropping off and picking up as well as trying to puzzle out the mystery of where the heck does that time fly during the hours when the kids are at school?! I swear, we just dropped them off and we are putting our shoes back on to go get them again. But I comment, often, that the drudgery and simplicity of this parenting gig is the best thing ever, a privilege. An honor I wouldn’t trade for anything. But this week is admittedly nice. πŸ™‚
My goals for the week were pretty simple:
*Go to Costco and look through the office supplies to find the next cool thing (total bust)
Last year I got both a really inexpensive laminator and a beautiful washi tape dispenser with tons of tape during spring break. This year was significantly less inspiring with the yellow legal pads and sharpies. Woo hoo. Not.

*Go out to eat at least once:
I honestly didn’t think we were going to do this one. We are not people who go out to eat- the limitations of being vegetarians who insist of really healthy, low carb, low fat food choices, meaning not a veggie burger with fries, no mac-n-cheese, no fettuccine Alfredo and no cheese pizza, thankyouverymuch, which are generally the only choices for vegetarians in most restaurants. Add to that some anxiety surrounding going out and the cost of eating out and we generally reserve going out to eat for very unique, special situations for a total of about 2-4 times per year.
But yesterday Bradley surprised me by taking me to three restaurants- we bar-hopped for happy hours! I have NEVER EVER done that! I don’t generally drink so I was fairly sloshy after the first, incredibly delicious weizenbier but forged through to have another beer at a different place and a glass of wine at still a different place. The final restaurant was the same place we went for our anniversary last year and the food was still as good with fancy olives, yummy burrata, the most amazing cauliflower and delicious flatbread. But what was truly amazing was that we went on a date outside of our house to actual restaurants!

*Get crafty
I discovered smash books and am hooked. Smash books are just a way of free styling journaling that takes the small moments of day-to-day life including the artifacts one collects (receipts, ticket stubs etc.) and combines them all in an artistic, interesting, scrap booking kind of way. It beautifully integrates my desire to journal with my interest in scrapbooking and my artistic, creative sensibilities in a way that suits me unlike any other art projects or journal I’ve ever seen or tried to keep. I’m ridiculously excited about journaling during the spring and summer of this year. I decided not to be too strict on myself. If I forget to do a week or day or just don’t have the time to do it then I will just pick it up the next week and keep going. I also really like this because, in general, every time I’m scrapbooking or making cards or making any kind of product with paper, I’m always giving it away. This is one of the first times that I’m creating something that’s completely for myself, so that’s new and I’m really excited.
*Watch an entire TV series/season
I know. Lofty goals, right? But if I don’t include it then it won’t happen and I’ll be disappointed. So, I did this. I watched Season 4 of Louie, which I loved because I am one of the millions who think he’s funny and smart. I also got to thinking about Whitney Houston’s tragic life (idk why, I just live here) and watched three episodes of Being Bobby Brown as ‘research’. I wanted some trash tv and definitely found it. Sheesh. There are some windows one wishes they hadn’t looked through.

*Work out a bunch
I got really into the trail at St. Ed’s and got kind of obsessed with beating my times on it. Bradley commented to me, as we were cruising up some altitude this morning, about how hard I pull myself up that hill and how fast I go- he says I pull him along now. He remarked that it’s so nice to be so equally matched by me and even challenged, athletically, with me. I never thought I’d hear anyone say that, ever! What a compliment! We only missed two days of working out over the past nine days. I call that a success!
*Start Facebook group for work peeps
I’m including this here because I wanted to talk about how Facebook can be such a great tool for getting support. For me, it’s hard to crow to all 300+ of my community that I’ve done something. It just feels weird, and to do it daily is almost embarrassing for me. I just feel sensitive to that one person who really feels depressed and lost and despise updates from people like me…. Anyhow, I have one friend who started a support group for herself as she is trying to get over a weightloss and exercise plateau. She needs a push and accountability, so she carefully selected a small number of friends and invited us to be the people she brags and complains to. I started a similar page for my fish friends at work as another place where we can communicate, complain and crow about how our health focus is coming along.
*Play every day
I played hard in a bunch of different ways, and it was awesome. I had a great week! And now?
Summer break is a mere 9 weeks away! That means only nine more Fridays, nine more Mondays, nine more weeks to get everything done! Only nine more weeks to love on my second graders- and make no mistake- I love on ’em pretty hard, making saying goodbye in June a pretty tearful experience for me. It’s weird, we work so hard at building community, trust and relationships, then we let it go completely, every year, and start fresh. Sometimes it’s a blessing, sometimes a curse. I extra love these kiddos this year… But I think I say that every year! It’s true, though, something about them only being seven, eight and so full of wonder, still. It’s been a tough year, but a really special year. A year I’m not looking forward to letting go… So, many teachers and students return after break with a skip in their step and song in their heart that the next break looming ahead is the king mother of all breaks: summer! And I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to it, but it’s definitely bittersweet and I want to get as much quality learning and time in with my classroom kids. Cheers for a happy return and cheers for a lovely ending as this school year winds to a close!