Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eleven Things About Me You Probably Don't Know

Hi guys! Yes, I'm still alive. Life got crazy and I got into kind of a funk...and not the good kind with a lot of bass and horns.  I got all sad and grouchy and nothing I wrote, not even the simplest little post on dinner, seemed to be enough to pass my good-enough-for-the-internet test. What do you guys do when you really want to write but everything just seems blah?

Anyways, I've got an ulterior motive for writing random little tidbits about myself at this particular time.  You see, I've  decided to take that one step every health blogger takes eventually and start posting stats and progress photos of myself.  Meaning, if you check this blog on Monday, you will be seeing pictures.  Of me.  Mostly nude.  Hide the kiddies.

But, since I'm gonna be putting my external self out there (so very, very out there) for all the internet to see, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the internal stuff as well; a few of the things, bad and good, that make me me. 

1.  I'm named after a character in Lord of the Rings.  No, really.  Sam's daughter Elanor the Fair, although my parents used the more normal spelling of "Eleanor" and then just  called me "Nelly" all the time.  I kind of love how nerdy that is.  And if you haven't read far enough to know where she comes into the story, get cracking or we can't be friends.*

2.  I'm pagan.  Solitary (my friends and I had a circle when I lived in Ohio, but I haven't joined one down here) and ecclectic (although I favor the Celtic pantheon, Brigid in particular).  I don't pretend to know everything (or even anything) about the way the universe works, but I do feel like there are more things in heaven and on earth that are dreamt of in any philosophy.  And this particular method helps me feel closer to the earth, my fellow man and that un-nameable force that ties everything together.  Also, yes I plan on jumping over a bonfire tomorrow night (probably not naked though) and no I don't do love spells.

3.  I have trichotillomania.  Generally speaking, it's the compulsion to pull your hair out.  Some people bite their nails down to the quick; I've pulled bare patches on my scalp before.  For me, it also manifests as picking at any imperfection on my skin - if I have a scab or a zit or an ingrown hair, I will literally tear the skin from my face and body to get it out.  It really sucks.  If I didn't have it, I'd have about a tenth of the scars that I do and my hair would actually be long (about a year ago, things got so bad that I just buzzed it and started over).  So if you ever see me in the gym with my hand up to my head, I give you free rein to come up and body check me.  Totally serious.  Or just a hug.  Whatever.

4.  I have an amazing ability to memorize and retain songs.  At my current job, taking care of an adorbz little monster who loves to be sung to, I've found that I can sing most if not all of the songs my parents used to play and sing for me when I was a wee one, even the ones I haven't heard in years.  I used to be able to do the same thing with playing the piano, just because I could never really read music so I just memorized everything right off the bat.

5.  I save all my bacon grease and chicken fat and use it later to cook with.  It's AMAZING.  Do it.

6.  If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to insert myself into people's dreams.  Mostly just to talk.  Sometimes to mess with them.  Now I'm giggling to myself.

7.  I own very little furniture, but I have 7 bookshelves, all full.  I think people without books in their house, or even without books in view as soon as you walk in the door, are kind of weird.

8.  There was a brief period the summer after I left college that I was homeless.  The friend I was staying with at the time had personal dramas unrelated to me that got her really, really depressed and she went all hermit for a while, which involved closing her door to me.  I had a job, but no place to stay in that town, so I ended up sleeping under a bridge for a couple nights until I bought a cheap tent, camping just outside of town during the week and then hiking the 20 or so miles to another friend's house on the weekends to shower and eat.  The main thing I noticed?  You really do become invisible.  People don't want to see you, so their eyes just skip you.  You know that bit in Harry Potter (think it's the first book) when Hagrid explains why the Muggles can't see that one building because they don't expect or want it to be there, and Harry sees their eyes just sliding past it without actual recognition?  That's what it's like.

9.  As part of the progress stats, I'll be weighing myself for the first time in 4 months, and I'm a little scared.  I've never been really seriously tied to the scale, but like pretty much every other non-third-world adult woman, I've definitely had some level of a disordered relationship with it in the past, and I really don't want to go back to that.  I'm also getting stats like body fat and other more medically sound ones taken, though, and I'm hoping I can focus on those more.

10.  I still sleep with my two favorite toys from childhood.  One is a teddy bear named "Teddy."  She wears a blue-and-green tartan nightgown; I used to have a matching one that I wore until it started choking me when I tried to button it.  The other is "Baby Eleanor," a baby doll with only one foot, because when I was about 7 I left her in the yard and the neighbor's dog got ahold of her and chewed the other foot off.  She's also a black baby doll.  Yes, she's named after me.  Is this why it seemed perfectly natural to date a black man? Perhaps :D

11.  If I could live off only 5 food for the rest of my life, they would be 1. steak, 2. bacon, 3. cherries, 4. brussel sprouts and 5. decaf coffee. 


*Ha ha!  Just kidding!**

**Not really kidding.

Friday, April 8, 2011

My bra is full of sand.

There's dust and dirt coating my skin, in my hair and my eyes,  crunching in my teeth and between the waistband of my pants and my skin.  My knees are covered in bruises.  There's also a nice one blossoming on my back, right in the middle of my spine.  My forearms, shoulders, upper back and pretty much every other exposed piece of skin is sporting a lovely shredded look from slamming into the gritty ground over and over.  And I cannot wait to do it all over again.

Ok, ok, I'll explain.

Yesterday I spent one of the most amazingly fun (G-rated) hours I've had in years, here:
with this dude:
Don't be jealous, ladies.  He charges by the hour and you can schedule a lesson or six at his site.

For this past Christmas, my dad got me caveman/ninja/parkour/ape lessons from Colin, to be used whenever I could fit them in.  The group lessons always seemed to fall at a time when I couldn't make it, so we finally decided to use part of my dad's gift towards a one-on-one lesson just to get things rolling (so to speak) and use the rest up whenever I can.  And omgz it was SO worth it.

Surprisingly enough, there was no crawling in this day's warm-up.  There were, however, squats and high knees and butt-kickers and skipping and broad jumps, which WOW do I ever suck at and I felt like a total fool doing them.  But now I know kind of what to practice to not look quite so foolish.

When Colin and I discussed what we wanted to cover in the lesson, I told him running and falling, as those seem to be my downfalls (hah!) for most of my big exercise failures.  We started out with break falls, which I kind of remembered from  my jiu-jitsu days, but the way he teaches them are aikido-based, so much less focus on heavy impact and "just get used to it, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  His method is much softer, rounder, gentler, working with the ground as opposed to fighting against it.  Not what I'm used to, but much less pain than I was expecting.  So, good.

Then we moved on to rolling.  Now, let me say this.  When I was doing jiu-jitsu, rolls were pretty much the one major thing I could never get.  No matter how much I practiced, it just never clicked.  I think most of that is due to an intense visceral fear of being upside-down, which causes me to block out the time between the entry into and exit from the roll - I remember going into it, and I remember coming out of it, but that moment in the middle is a total blank.  If I can neither focus on in the moment nor remember after the fact anything about my position, I can't improve on it.  So I thought.

Well, apparently all those hours of practice, even as they were filling me with despair and pouty feelings, instilled some kind of muscle memory, because I didn't totally suck at rolling.  I still kind of sucked.  And I can't roll straight.  But I can roll.  What's more, I can roll on my left side.  Actually better than the right side, probably because my brain won't handle the switch at all so I have to just turn it off and go.  It was amazingly exhilarating and I'm still grinning just thinking about it.

After rolling, when I was finally completely covered in dirt, we had a little while left to focus on running.  I'd worn my crazy awesome toe shoes for most of the time, but when you're getting barefoot running lessons from an actual caveman ninja, you kind of have to go completely barefoot.  I really really should have gotten a picture of this because I want to show you Colin's feet compared to mine.  You don't think about posture of the foot very much, but there are very noticeable differences once you look.  Even my feet, which are relatively flexible and strong from my dancing days, look practically newly-unbound next to his.  And no, Finn, I don't have a foot fetish.  At least, not a sexual one.  I'll get a picture.  Then you'll understand.

We started this bit out with just plain walking.  That is, normal old heel-toe walking, across the stage area of the theater.  Even when going barefoot, as we both were, you can hear a soft but distinct crunching thud as the heel comes down with every footfall.  Then we walked back, this time going toe-heel, or "fox-walking."  The difference is more noticeable than you'd think, even at a similar pace.  This was repeated several more times, slowly getting into a very quick short stride, almost a shuffle.  At this point it's hard not to break into a soft run, which is what we moved to next.

There's so many different points to think about when your body's not used to this type of movement - land on outer-ish forefoot and push off middle-ish forefoot but don't run on your toes and don't really push off, just pick your feet up; keep your body a stacked column but a leaning stacked column, like the Tower of Pisa; move your arms but not like that; keep your ankles relaxed (bwuh?); don't flex your foot all the way (as I do every single time); etc etc zomguh!  I think I kind of got it a couple times, when we moved out of the theater and were running up and down the road for more room.  Trouble is, I get all Zen'd out and want to just close my eyes and float along whenever I get into that zone.  Not quite the best thing to do when running near moving cars.

And then we were done.  I stayed a little bit and we chatted about feet and posture and how the dawn of agriculture was really where it all started to go downhill and maybe we shouldn't have come down from the trees at all.  That kind of thing.  And I left covered in dirt and sweat and bruises and rashes on my arms from throwing myself face down on the sand so damn many times, but positively bouncing with excitement for the next time I get to do it all.  I'll keep you all posted on my gradual but inevitable evolution into a sexy bad-ass cavelady/ninja/traceuse!

Also you all really need to check out Colin's site.  He has a whole lot to say about nearly everything, and almost all of it makes sense.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Caught between "bwuh?" and "...ow."

So new weirdest search query leading to my site.

Ready for it?


"5 guys to bugger me."



Internet, you are crazy.


EDIT: I forgot to say that it came via  Oh, you crazy French people.

WOD=Workout Of Death (plus a recipe!)

So Joanne mentioned in a comment that she was under the impression that "WOD" stood for "Workout Of Death."  I think that's actually amazingly apt, especially when applied to yesterday's ridiculousness.

Colin the Caveman Ninja led the workout, so we warmed up by crawling, obvs.  Then there was about 15 minutes of "climbing onto and over things" which was mostly just muscle-up practice on the pull-up bars.  The whole deal with swinging around and flipping over the bar and being approximately 25 feet above the ground does not agree with me, so I just watched this part.  Crazy Tom is crazy amazing at these, by the way.  Next time you see him in the gym, tell him I said to show off his mad skills!

So then we got down to the actual workout.  Here it is, in all its lurid glory:

For time:
  • 70 burpees
  • 60 sit-ups
  • 50 overhead kettlebell swings (35lb KB)
  • 40 pull-ups
  • 30 handstand push-ups
For the happily uninformed, these are burpees.

The first 10 passed fairly quickly.  The second 10 weren't too bad either.  I think it was somewhere around 40 that I started to significantly slow down (relative to myself, that is).  I think that took a good third of my total time.  I got a good pace going on the sit-ups, so they were actually a decent rest from the burpees.  KB swings started out solid, but my shoulder started to bug me so I switched to one-armed face-height swings with a 30lb KB for the last 20 reps, all with my left arm.  The last two movements were also scaled: instead of pull-ups, I did one-armed ring rows (got the right arm going just for balance on the last 10) and instead of HPSUs I did regular push-ups.  And I was the slowest at 25:something.  But I can crank out 30 push-ups with relatively little effort at the end of a crazy workout with a busted shoulder.  So that means I'm awesome. :D

And here's the food!

mise en place ftw!
I used Coach Too-Cute-To-Hate's recipe for chicken faux mein, tweaking it a little because I'm just cool like that.  I didn't measure out the chicken, just used what I had left over from the last one I roasted.  I also didn't have fresh ginger or gluten-free soy sauce, so I subbed ginger powder and regular soy sauce, and I added the optional honey, so it wasn't really paleo.  Also, 8 cloves of garlic is a hell of a lot for normal people.  I used 4 large ones and it gave a nice kick, so I'm a little worried about how twice that amount would be.  I added it in at the beginning, going along with the recipe, but I wish I'd stuck with my gut and waited til the end, as you're supposed to do with garlic.  I did wait til the very end to add the green onions so they'd stay bright and delicious-looking, and it totally worked.

the delicious outcome
There was one major but very simple change I made to the recipe that turned it from delicious to your-head-asplode-with-delight*.  And that was to stir in a spoonful of Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter, you could probably use another nut butter) directly before consuming.  ZOMGUH.  Try it, you guys.  Especially those people who frequent Mike's mobility workouts.  This will make all the pain go away.


*yes, this is a reference to both Strongbad and Monty Python.