Friday, January 1, 2016

Here's to health in 2016

New Year’s Day is a silly time to make huge life changes.

It’s cold outside, sugary things are made and given in the name of love, and people socialize inside over drinks because it’s too damn cold to socialize outside.

Work gets in the way of workouts, of healthy meal planning. Stress makes me reach for sugar, booze, flour or some combination of the above.

But I’m done with excuses.

2016 is going to be my healthiest year yet.

I’m saying goodbye to my habits of looking to food and drink for stress relief, quick energy, or a hit of pleasure that turns into a stomachache and guilt. No more “shop ‘n’ sip” at the grocery store as I aimlessly wander the aisles and debate dessert. There are better ways to relax and more efficient ways to get dinner on the table.

My activity monitor has been sort of a joke in the year that I've owned it. One or two great activity sessions per week doesn’t make me active. Right now I’m trying to play catch-up as a weekend warrior, making up for slothfulness during the week.

I can do better.
Just as much as my dog needs me to take him out for a hike, my soul needs that outdoors time: fresh air, aerobic activity, a nature fix.

Goal: Get outside with the dog for an off-leash hike at least 2 days/week.

As much as my muscles need flexibility training, my overactive brain needs an hour of yoga at least once a week to calm down.

Goal: By the end of January, find at least one weekly yoga class that will fit into my life, and commit to it.

To be able to shoulder the burdens of regular life — and to shoulder a 62-pound seven-year-old kid when necessary — strength training is essential.

Goal: Make twice-weekly strength-training classes a priority. If I have to skip a class, I can strength train at home with body weight exercises.

I perch on my stool at my desk a lot, although I’ve modified my desk to accommodate standing. Besides standing, I should make more trips up and down the stairs and through the building, and not drive when I can walk or bike somewhere.

Goal: Meet my activity monitor’s goals 6 out of 7 days per week.

I’ve used alcohol for many things over the past 25 years, but mainly to medicate anxiety. I also love pairing wine and beer with specific foods. But a beer or two a night or most of a bottle of wine is contributing to unhealthy patterns and weight gain.

Goal: I will stay off the booze at least through January, and re-evaluate after that if I can try moderation in that department. Drinking at most one drink per day or one day per week would be an acceptable level for me if all other factors of my life are in balance. I got it out of my cabinets today, out of sight.

With a history of diabetes and heart disease in my family, sugar and processed foods are not my friends, they’re enemies.

Goal: Whole30 eating plan for at least January. Stay off of sugar, wheat, dairy and all processed foods for at least the month, and carefully evaluate after that how I reintroduce those things.

I’ll grocery shop and cook in batches each weekend, helping me to have healthy foods at hand and not make bad decisions based on poor planning.

More goals: Of course I’m going to floss daily and moisturize and avoid chapped lips. I’ll take my vitamins and probiotics, wash my hands and get plenty of rest. Cuticle care will be important, as will washing off mascara and wearing ample sunscreen.

So I join the masses this New Year in resolving to treat my body like a temple and give it a full remodel. It’s got great bones and structure, it’s just had some crappy renters who are getting kicked to the curb.

Today was my second day in a row of enjoying a long cross-country ski, despite it being below zero. The dog is worn out, my freezer is full of new meals, my gums feel great and I’m excited for my lifestyle changes to start paying dividends.

Maybe I'll feel so good that I'll finally dive back into working on my novel. Maybe I'll sort my socks. Maybe I'll have just one set of clothes that fits me instead of a small, medium and large set. Maybe my energy will be contagious and my daughter will want to keep me company on a lot of my outings.

But all this self-improvement is exhausting.

First I need a nap.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My husband could have been blown up today. 

My world could have fallen apart today. But because of fate, or God, or the propane truck driver's warning and quick thinking and my husband's leadership and reflexes, it all turned out OK.

In this photo, my husband is wrapped in a dog-hair-covered blanket from my car. His eyes are red from crying. Desi looks exhilarated he is back within her circle and, I think, proud of him for his role in helping others.

Decompressing is always hard after an intense news cycle, but it's usually easier because it involves people a bit farther from home. Maybe just a half-mile or so, but farther than our little home. When the hero or victim or "there by the grace of God go I" star are in your home, it's even harder to process.

Here's what I know: There's nobody I'd rather have by my side when things go south than Scott Edwards, my husband of 15 years and partner of 17.5. He's been able to keep calm and carry on long before that was a T-shirt slogan.

After he'd given the Jackson Hole News&Guide an exclusive interview on his role chucking people out of a window before the Bell Fitness building exploded into flames and took charge of our child, he started to drive home but couldn't face being alone after the drama.

After a brief few minutes of wrapping up loose tweets and handing off duties, I checked out of the newspaper and took the driver's seat of family logistics, replacing his iPhone, getting us a snack and reuniting us with our dog, Milo, who had been away at boot camp with trainer Jayme Feary.

We needed canine therapy, stat. Snuggles and barks and doggie snores.

Our little family got home, cleaned up, hugged a lot and got ready for bed.

It's hard to know if there's a reason for everything. If Scott needed to keep working shifts at Bell and manning the front desk although other opportunities kept knocking. Because if he hadn't been there, I'm not certain everyone in the building would have made it out in time. The flames were chasing them out.

If he hadn't hurt his back a year earlier during his river rafting-snowmobiling work routine, he might not have been working at Bell.

I know his heart is heavy with worries about how he will continue to make a living, the deductible on our car insurance to replace his burned-out 1999 Tahoe, where he can take his clients to train. I try to tell him it will be OK. Things will work out. We have each other.

Tonight, I'm content not knowing the design behind the madness. I'm happy to head into bed with a grateful pug-pit-bull rescue dog and a man who constantly makes me proud.

Peace be with you, and you and you and you.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Too hot to handle... without gloves

Perhaps I should start by explaining that I wasn't raised with spicy foods. It was only after a couple of Thai restaurants opened up in Jackson Hole that I started trying the heat, and liking it. I'm still only up to one-and-a-half or two stars on a dish, but I love the flavor.
Inspired by Joohee Muromcew, the mother of four kids including a set of triplets, who cooks amazing meals for her family, I decided to try cooking my first adobo. Joohee steered me toward this New York Times Magazine piece about adobo, the national dish of the Philippines. The article isn't exactly a recipe, but it includes the basic ingredients and encourages you to fumble your way toward the perfect recipe for you.
When shopping for peppers, there's really not any helpful literature in my local grocery store. Smith's doesn't have any signs like "Pepperoncini: Pepper for babies, go ahead, take a bite," or "Habanero: Yes, it looks cute, but it's 20 times hotter than a jalapeno. DO NOT HANDLE WITHOUT GLOVES."
A chart like this, which explains how many Scoville Units of heat a pepper has, would have been helpful as I shopped.
Blissfully ignorant, I chopped up two Habanero peppers to go in the crock pot with the rest of my adobo ingredients. I washed my hands immediately afterward, but obviously not well enough. They burned the rest of the day as I edited obituaries, wrote briefs and wrangled two section dummies at the newspaper. I washed my hands a couple more times.
When I got home, I decided I needed to wash my hair and have a long, hot bath. The hot water opened up my pores, allowing the chile oil that was still inexplicably on my skin to descend into my pores. A million fire ants invaded my hands. While I was reading my child a bedtime story, I held an ice pack that did little to nothing to stop the pain. I had to stop reading the story and go try whatever folk remedies I could find on the internet.
I pleaded for help on Facebook:  I've tried baking soda paste, cortisone, aloe Vera, milk, fit fruit spray and codeine. Please baby Jesus make it stop!
Friends were sympathetic but not specifically helpful. I tried more things.
And now toothpaste and ice and body butter. I think I'm going for the lemon juice and olive oil. Trying every folk remedy on the internets. Except orange juice. Cause I have none.
With my greasy thumbs I kept the Facebook crowd posted:
It was almost lemon juice for the win but the burn returns. I think now I will try a lemon juice / baking soda paste with an olive oil chaser. Then another codeine and maybe I can sleep. Never. Ever. Again will I cut peppers without gloves.
Finally I tried the last thing on the list of remedies: yogurt. My kid pleaded for Trix candy-flavored yogurt at the grocery store last month but then only ate one of the four containers. My husband ate two more, but there was one left. I plunged my fingers into the deliciously cold pink-and-yellow conconction and my eyes rolled back in my head with relief. After several minutes I reluctantly rinsed it off and waited for the burn to come back, but it wasn't too bad. Not taking any chances, I went for the olive oil, slathered it on and went to bed. Some oil dripped onto my pillow and face, but that was a small price to pay for relief.
Those sneaky cute little orange peppers are not to be trifled with, folks. Watch your six. And Google those peppers before you buy.
P.S. The adobo was great, although a touch too spicy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Primal happy place

In my memories, my father smells like woodsmoke and Army surplus stores. With family, with friends, some of my happiest times have involved a campfire.

This fall I've been taking a mind-body skills class that has involved meditation, listening, drawing and guided imagery. Instructor Maureen Molinari has asked us to go to a happy place during the guided imagery, and more than once my mind has zoomed in on a campfire circle with good girlfriends. I feel warm, comforted and at peace while staring into the flickering flames.

Since I didn't make time this summer for camping, I decided on Saturday to drive up to Curtis Canyon for some of that fire-gazing time with my girls, hetero lifemate Mel and mini-me Desi.

Preparedness experts that we are, we brought plenty of sustenance, bear spray and water to extinguish our fire, but forgot one critical piece of equipment: a spatula. We made do with my trusty Leatherman and a spice can, but our burger patties were more like meat chunks. At least it's hard to screw up s'mores with dark Ghirardelli chocolate, right? Wrong.

But at least we got lots of catch-up time while mini-me was napping in the car.

When the adorable dictator decreed it was time to go home and see her daddy, I had to give in, but I put part of a dead animal bone in the  fire ring as a witness to the healing and joy that had occurred there.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Desert dreaming

Last night while flipping through Fodor's Guide to the National Parks of the West -- I spent the past month updating the Grand Teton chapter -- I had an intense longing for a trip to the Utah desert.

Not that this weekend's shopping jaunt to the big city of Idaho Falls hasn't been satisfying. It's just not a real vacation, and it's not Moab.

Once while on a trip with my pal Alexa we were paddling duckies along the Colorado River under towering sandstone walls in silence except for the occasional car zipping by on the highway above. As we watched one of those cars pull over by the side of the road, a man got out, put a trumpet to his lips and serenaded us, the sound echoing through the canyon.

Another time, Denise and I came down for a long weekend of mountain biking and got into an epic vacation fight on the way home. I believe the issue was my wanting to stop for ice cream and her refusing.

When Scott and I went down and explored Arches National Park, we almost got blown off the cliff just before Delicate Arch in a crazy windstorm.

This spring, I forgot my national parks pass when we hit Moab for a week, but since we had kid and dog with us that was OK. We hiked up Negro Bill Canyon and the dog miraculously didn’t find any rattlesnakes. Coyote Shuttle dropped us at the top of Gemini Bridges jeep road, and we ate a fantastic picnic lunch at the edge of the bridges. Scott was towing Desi in her Weehoo recumbent trail-a-bike, so we stuck to the road, even though I looked wistfully at every big of singletrack we passed.

We did a tiny bit of “real” mountain biking on the Bar M of the Moab Brand Trails, and now that I’ve done those trails I think Milo would have had a great time running alongside.

Moab with kid, dog and husband is quite different than a trip with the girls. With the former, there’s more packing and less adventuring, but at this point, seven months post-vacay, I’d take any kind of trip.

Seeing as I’ve got a big birthday next summer, I’m planning a big-ish girls’ trip, something I’d train for all winter. I was thinking Bikerpelli along the Kokopelli trail, but my pal Rachel suggests the San Juan hut system instead. San Juans don’t open up until June 1, and my preferred time window is a bit earlier, probably May. Anybody got other ideas?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Catching up

I had to go buy socks this week.
Socks are necessary in the 9 months of the year in Wyoming that flip-flops are not an option.
Somehow in the past few months, time sped up. Laundry hasn't been a priority.
Ironically, I began taking a relaxation class last month. The two-hour-a-week commitment is stressing me out.
Yet I think it's time to revive the blog. I've missed you, dear readers, in the time I took away.
Here are some things that have happened since the last time I wrote here:
Desi started preschool at Axis Gymnastics Sports Academy. She's 4.75 years old and can sound out words and stick a front flip on the trampoline. She's ripped.
Mojo took a self-walk in August 2012 and got hit by a car and died. I cried every day for a month.
Scott said no more dogs. Heartbroken, I agreed.
In December, I started surfing on my phone underneath the covers. I found Milo. We campaigned the Pocatello shelter staff until they chose us to adopt him. Desi calls him her brother.
This spring, I tried to leap onto a horse from a buckrail fence and ripped my right ACL in half. I was on crutches for six weeks after surgery and went a little stir-crazy. The girls at Four Pines whipped me back into shape.  It was the summer of squats.
I'll leave you with some pictures: Me and mini-me at the Blue Lion, paddling on the Snake River and a rainbow over the National Elk Refuge.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Little diva in training

I mean, seriously. Is there anything cuter than a cowgirl?