Hang out with all the boys . . .

I finally made it to the Y today. At the membership desk they really pressed me to apply for a reduced cost membership, so now I have to wait for their decision on the same, but in a few days, I should be good to go, bar code in hand. In the meantime, I had a tour.

The downtown Dayton YMCA was purpose built alongside the river in 1927. Like most YMCAs, it no longer offers hotel service, and that part of the enormous building has been transformed into apartments and condominiums. Through its sister organization, the YWCA, the Y does offer shelter in Dayton for homeless women at another facility and many YMCAs around the country are leaders in transitional and homeless sheltering. And there are actually a few Ys around the country that still offer regular hotel-style lodging, in Chicago and New York, for about a hundred bucks a night.

But not Dayton. In Dayton, the Y’s amenities are limited to weight room, cardio room, yoga classes, aerobics, Pilates, spinning, indoor running track, two indoor gyms with basketball, whirlpool, sauna, steam rooms, pool and racquetball courts. What is particularly wonderful about the downtown Y is that most of the facility still bears the hallmarks of  its original art-nouveau design. Beautiful tiles around the pool, fantastic ceiling moldings, absolute classic old gymnasiums. Parts of this YMCA could be a movie set for a great athletic epic from the thirties: The Hazel Leona Walker Story, or something.

It pleases me to say that when we were there at 5 p.m. on a Monday afternoon, that the Y was hopping. People were streaming in after work to get in a few laps, or reps, or whathaveyou. I asked what the quietest time of the day is (mornings) and I expect that’s when we’ll go. The members of the Y are skinny, fat, tall, short, black, white, old, young, fit and not fit and run the gamut from lovely to less so. I’m sure I can find my place along that spectrum somewhere. There’s even a bike rack where I can park my bike.

In other news, I had a migraine today, the first in months. I managed to knock it down with Relpax, but that left me feeling a bit flat for most of the day. I am wondering if it was not a direct result of my slide into the slough of despond. Have to watch that.

The other thing is this: on a public forum about the Chick-Fil-A controversy, a youngish woman, quite plump, and quite southern, delivered an extensive screed on the Bible and how stupid we all were to boycott Chick-Fil-A; you know the usual spew of prejudice and hate.

I felt compelled to respond to her and wrote “. . . and from the looks of your photograph, you might want to miss a few trips to Chick-Fil-A.” I didn’t post it. I didn’t post anything finally, but I was horrified that I too had fallen into that awful behavior of saying mean things to people because they’re fat.

If she’d been physically ugly or had a big nose (neither is the case) I would never had said anything about those aspects of her appearance. But because she was overweight, I was right there about to utter a phrase I knew would hurt her the most. Yes, she’s a hateful shrew, but I don’t have to sink to her level. I am most relieved that I caught myself before I said something that really would have made me ashamed.

Hit the ground running this morning and forgot to weigh, so no target number still.  Steps: 6168. Breakfast: yogurt with granola, two hard-boiled eggs. Lunch: green salad with chicken and avocado, feta cheese. Half a chocolate croissant. Dinner: three scrambled eggs, two cups of watermelon.  With the Olympics: half a cup of frozen yogurt.



Late last night, in an email note to a friend, I mentioned that I was in the Slough of Despond. (One of my favorite literary places, though in reality, not a state I love to frequent.) In a matter of minutes the phone rang.

“What’s wrong?” my friend asks and when I try to tell him my trials and exasperations seem minor and petty: It’s hot. I don’t like getting up in the morning. I’m bored with myself. I’m worried about money. I feel blue. Honestly, I can hardly stand being such a whiner.

Listening to his worries in return I feel even more guiltily like a spoiled child: really, I have nothing to complain about. I know that doesn’t stop anyone from feeling down “in such a place as cannot be mended,” but it does give me perspective and that perspective helps me to re-evaluate what is really going on.

There’s a great tradition for “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps.” Never mind that the metaphor is an impossible one– you can’t really pull yourself anywhere by the little leather tabs on the side of boots. In a similar motif, in Rudolph Erich Raspe’s The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the Baron pulls himself out of a predicament by implementing his own pigtail.

But there’s something else about the whole “bootstrap” mechanism: it implies that if you try hard enough, you can achieve the unlikely, if not the impossible, and it’s fine and dandy if your feeble attempts send you into paroxysm. You’ve earned it. Or something.

I think perhaps I prefer the advice of Will Rogers: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

Something in this project isn’t working, so why go on trying the same old thing over and over again? I don’t have to throw the whole thing out, but I need to stop digging.

Then tonight there was a lovely comment on last night’s lament, out of the blue, from someone I don’t know, and it was contained two excellent pieces of advice: I need to have more fun and I need to stop taking it all so seriously. Like the phone call from my friend, there was an extra sweetness there, that someone — nay, two someones– felt compelled enough to reach out and help me out of the Slough. I am humbled and ever grateful.

So what now?  I’m not sure. I did have fun at the Celtic Festival today, even though it was too hot, and the food was a little ghastly and I got a little too much sun and the music was too loud, but the company was excellent. I do need to go on having fun–so tomorrow, before anything else, I am going down to the Y to sign up. It’s not much, but it’s going in the right direction.

It took me twenty years to get here– I can’t expect to get back in a matter of months, but I can certainly have a hell of a time trying.

Forgot to weigh this morning, so no target number. Steps: 8009. For breakfast: Irish “fry” (two eggs scrambled, a rasher of undercooked Irish bacon, one link of very bland Irish sausage, potato scone, half a piece of Irish soda bread) Lunch was a grilled salmon steak on green salad, along with 4 large and delicious french fries nabbed off my son’s plate, and later in the day two squares of Ghirardelli chocolate.  Dinner was yogurt with granola, two hard-boiled eggs, and half a cup of frozen greek yogurt.


*image is from the Leeds University Equestrian Department’s 2012 fundraising calendar to raise money for riding programs for the disabled. Sorry, it’s sold out. 

Nobody Home

I didn’t weigh today. I don’t know how far I walked– not far, though I did play with the dogs in the yard. I don’t really remember what I had to eat. A peanut butter sandwich. Yogurt. A couple of eggs. More.  I don’t remember yesterday. I wonder if I will get to the bottom of this and bounce.


Out of the Groove

I’ve lost my mojo.  I open the refrigerator door and stand there, looking. I don’t want to eat another hard-boiled egg. I just don’t. I’m sick of fruit, of salad, of all those healthy, crispy, bright tasting things I’ve eaten day after day after day. (Weirdly, I’m not tired of yogurt with granola; a most peculiar state given that in the past I couldn’t stomach more than a week of yogurt and I’ve never liked granola with milk. The combination makes a huge difference.) Blissful Brown Cow notwithstanding I am tired of eating sensibly. I am tired of counting steps, I am bored.

Today I ripped open a bag of Bugles and ate a cup and one-third. (Because that’s the serving size.) It’s not that I want to cheat on the diet. In fact, I’ve made the diet nearly cheat-proof by not forbidding myself anything, though Bugles certainly haven’t appeared before today.

Years ago, chocolate and ice cream were seductive as hell, but now…  meh. The particular lactose load in ice cream makes me feel ill soon after eating, enough so that I’m not even attracted to it anymore. And chocolate? Well, I’m bored with chocolate. (Even the good stuff.) But today I ate a Heath bar. Just because it was there. I probably wasn’t even hungry. My husband was telling me something while I ate it. I don’t even really remember much beyond throwing away the wrapper.

For weeks, I was in the groove, but now it seems I’m in a rut.

While poking around on the Internet, I found a business article about getting ones employees out of  a rut. There were five key points:

Learn to recognize when someone is in a rut (Whining? Check. Moaning? Check. Complaining? Check. Judgmental? Check.) I guess they forgot Cranky.

Discuss what options are available to the individual. (Attitude adjustment? Greater challenges?)

Show the person what they can do to improve or develop. (People don’t see the variety that will keep them in the groove.)

Recognize their strengths and praise the use of those strengths.

Talk often about their career plan.

Those these points are easily adapted to my situation, but there lacks one essential piece of this puzzle. With employment, you have both carrot and stick. If you want to get paid, you’ll adapt to get out of the rut. If you fear losing your job, you’ll make the necessary changes.   On the other hand, shouldn’t the future of my health and well-being be at least as important as a paycheck? Of course it should.

So, I’ve identified that I’m in a rut. I can add more variety to my routine by making plans with friends, getting my ass down to the YMCA to sign up, cleaning out the refrigerator and stocking up with some easy-to-snack-on foods that offer some variety from what I’ve been eating for the last four months. I can re-evaluate my goals, give up some, take up others. I can go on walking, but I can add a few other activities that are less monotonous. I can ride the bike.

As to my strengths, I’ve done very well so far. Even though I veer a little of course from time to time, I haven’t given up and I haven’t slid back into all my bad old habits. (In the old days, it would have been to take the bag of Bugles to the couch and consume the entire thing while watching some foreign film.)

I’ve dropped two dress sizes, which means a whole new realm of clothes to wear — and that the old size is now too big. That’s no small achievement. As for my plans, they remain the same and their appeal is as appetizing as it ever was. I don’t want anything surgically replaced. I don’t want heart disease. I don’t want cancer. I don’t want to pant when I run my dog around the show ring.

The least I can do is get up and dance.

Target 54. Steps 2327. Two scrambled eggs, two ounces ham, two peaches. Half a cup of raspberry sorbet. Heath bar. A cup and a third bugles. Two hard-boiled eggs. Maple yogurt with granola.

Dinner to Mend the Broken-Hearted


Or the woebegone. Or someone getting over a cold, or malaise, or heart surgery.* Or anyone who’s had a really crummy day. And this also works for people who want to start off an autumn weekend with a breakfast that will carry them through the day, or Christmas morning or final exams. It is a go-to kind of dish, perfect for guests, easy to throw together for dinner when you want some kind of comfort food and you don’t want to spend all night making it.

Is it diet food? Of course not. If you want to take this recipe and bastardize it with egg-beaters and skim milk and fat-free cheese and tofurkey, well, I guess I can’t stop you. But I won’t be held responsible for the mess you pull out of the oven. As written, it’s a little high in fat, but the body needs fat, and protein in order to keep on going– it’s the fuel for your life.


This is what you need:

Quiche dish and refrigerated roll-out pie crust (or make your own) or Large frozen pie crust.

8 eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 oz shredded cheese

8 oz crumbled bacon

8 oz green peas (frozen or fresh, not canned)


Here’s how it works:

Turn the oven on to 350.

(If you want bacon in your Quiche, fry up half a pound of bacon until it is quite crisp. Limp bacon in Quiche is kind of gross, so make sure it is cooked enough. If you don’t want bacon, you can skip this step.)

Take down the Quiche dish. (A pie plate is not big enough, unless it’s a humongous pie plate.)

I use Pillsbury pie crust. If you use a frozen crust (and you can) you don’t have to worry about a Quiche dish. Choose the largest size they have. Or if you’re really virtuous, you can make a pie crust, I won’t stop you. If you use the Pillsbury crust, unfold it and drape it into the Quiche dish. I sort of like the rustic look– if you want to do that thing with the fork tines on the edge, that’s totally up to you.

Into the raw crust goes (in this instance) 8 ounces frozen peas (fresh are fine too, no canned), 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon. You can vary this however you like. Broccoli? Sure. Ham? Why not. Gruyère? A classic. But bacon and cheddar and peas is a favorite at our house– and the version without the bacon is well-loved too.  This is the place where you make this Quiche your own. Add more cheese or less. Use salmon, or steak or sausage, mushrooms, onions (best caramelized), zucchini, mozzarella. Whatever you like.

This is the part you don’t screw around with, because this is what makes it magical. Take 8 large eggs and whip in a bowl with a cup of heavy whipping cream. (Okay, yes you can use half and half. In a pinch, even whole milk, but in that case, reduce the milk by half and add two more eggs.) Just whip it ’till they are well-combined. You don’t have to get out the Kitchen-aid and throttle them.

Pour the egg-cream mixture over the stuff you’ve layered in the pie crust, add some salt and pepper and stick it in the oven for 45 minutes. What you pull out when the timer goes off will make you feel like life is worth living.

*I was very surprised when my mother had open-heart surgery that they placed no restrictions on her diet, no admonitions about fat or salt or cholesterol. They just wanted the patients to eat something to begin to regain their strength. My mother was a tough nut in this instance, refusing all  hospital food for two days. Finally I got her to indulge in a root beer float. Then yogurt. Then soup. Then this Quiche, the dinner to mend the broken-hearted.

Target today 54. Steps today 1066. For breakfast: two peaches, yogurt with granola. Lunch: ham sandwich, plain. 4 little shortbread cookies. Banana. Dinner: cheeseburger, six mini-sweet peppers, half cup of cherry tomatoes, kit=kat bar. (Yes, I can do better.)