Monday, July 25, 2011

A Bucket

Dear Miss P:

You're Two! It brings tears to my eyes (ask Daddy, I honestly teared up Saturday morning while drinking coffee and watching Sprout) to think that my baby is so big. You are such a determined little lady. Never bashful and full of opinions ("Yep! No! Mine?") you are our little Leo lion. I love that you are perfectly satisfied to be Mommy's baby (you frequently tell me that you are a baby and wear diapers vs. my insistence that big girls wear panties) and I will savor these remaining days that you are my baby because I know they are fleeting.

Mommy wishes that she has done a better job documenting some of the perfect toddlerisms that have come from you as of late. For fear of losing them for from my memory completely lets jot a couple of them down here:

When I asked you what you wanted for your birthday last week you told me that you wanted:

"A phuket." Huh? You repeated: "A pfffucket."

"A Bucket?"


a bit later you added a shovel to the birthday request. We had a awesome pool party for you on Saturday and lots of our new Madison friends came to celebrate with you. For the first hour, you flirted with the pool, not sure it was for you. Finally you decided to go for it and after several rounds of "One! Two! Blast Off!" with Daddy you were happy as a clam.

In preparation for your birthday this weekend, we taught you to answer the question: "How old are you?" When I told you - "I'm two!" you looked at me and mumbled: "I'm a shoe."

You love your food and you particularly love treats. You give us this little lowered eyelashes smile when you ask. It is a killer that smile and will serve you well in life.

You make friends with everyone you meet and you often look at us and ask "Friend?" as if to request permission to be sweet to persons you have yet to meet. As you continue to grow I don't think you will ever be wanting for friends. They will be drawn to your jolly laugh, your joy of play and your fierce devotion.

We love you -

Mommy, Daddy & X

This week's weigh in:

Weight loss to week: 1 lb (edited after I read down the blog! YAY!)
Total loss to date: 93.5 lbs
Weight to go: 6.5 lbs

I was down 2 lbs on the week until we had left over ELMO cake in our kitchen all weekend. Buttercream is the enemy people!

The running stats are totally off. I wore my Garmin for two Tony Horton workouts this week, so the only accurate stat is the calories burned.

Distance: 22.28 mi
Time: 04:53:37 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 939 ft
Avg Speed: 4.6 mph
Avg HR: 145 bpm
Calories: 3,076 C

Friday, July 22, 2011

Run like a Gisele

As I loped thru my 4 miler (thank Jesus for small favors in the form of thunderstorms), I had a moment of pause. What must I look like running down the road? Of course, we are all self conscious about all sorts of things, but honestly, my left over jiggly bits are really on display as I pound the pavement.

Then I had an out of body experience and take a real good look at my outfit. Oh man, this is classic. Shocking purple 3 inch run skort with neon yellow stripes down the sides, my moisture wicking Brooks running shirt, also in a somewhat (I am going with yes, it is) complementary bizarre shade of purple. My bright pink IPOD and Sports buds, gray and pink Forerunner, Gray Nike Visor and gray and pink hand held bottle. I was a blur of pink/purple/gray. Jiggling bits, legs, arms, all on display. I have no shame.

And as I forced my legs out further, stride after stride, I thought, "Mara, just run like a Gazelle." I've got long legs it is time I put them to good use.

Giggle. Snort. Gaffaw!

Forget gazelles. I want to run like a Gisele! So I started to forget about my Barney-like get up and pictured Bundchen running, heck ya... that is a much better self image. I can do this. I don't know about you, but this is what I look like after my workout:

Oh, and did I mention that I am married to Tom Brady? See the resemblance?

Who inspires you to keep going? Do you think positive or negatives about your running form? How do you keep going mile after mile? Newbies here want to know!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My (new) Best Friend

Heat! Heat! Heat!

Meet my new best friend.

Seriously need to get another of these and just run double fisted.

Monday, July 18, 2011


When I started all of this--- the changes, the diet, the exercise, the caring --- I remember how worried I was about whether or not I could do it. Being here alone, in the basement, feeding my boredom, feeding my anxiety... would I be able to stop myself from raiding the kitchen and getting that immediate satisfaction? I remember being worried about being hungry. Worried about being able to resist. To say no. To skip sugar, ice cream, chips. Worried about how I would feel about seeing my toddler's treats.

And as I started into the changes, I was surprised by how much strength I was able to muster. I was able to say no. I was able to pass on the sugary concoction, the ice cream, the cheesy potatoes. I even recall skipping stuffing at Thanksgiving. I was calling on reserves of willpower that I never knew I had.

Well, Willpower, I call on you now.

I've really been struggling with saying no. Bites and tastes and nibbles are clouding my judgment and pushing my daily calories over the limit. Part of me has rationalized the extra bites by cataloging the calories burned. Something along the lines of - I've run 5 miles - I should be able to have a bite of Mac 'n Cheese. But one bite turns into two, and suddenly that run can't offset the calories.

Add to the equation that at my now much reduced size, the calories that I have to limit myself to lose weight is far less than it was say, 90 lbs ago. My old habit are keeping me more in the maintenance category rather than the losing category. My new body needs far less calories to get around that my old one. My fit body is efficient. I've worked hard for this efficiency but I've got to tame that hunger beast! Willpower I call on you now!

My goal of losing 100 lbs had gone from sounding seemingly realistic to daunting. Now, granted, I sort of gave myself an arbitrary date to achieve this goal, but aren't all goals arbitrary? I mean, I could have given myself until Christmas, in which case I'd have a whole bunch of time to be losing a pound a week... but alas, I only gave myself a year. My blog post of 8/31/10 was the start of all this -- so, I am trying... lord, I am trying... to reach 100 lbs by that date.

Suddenly, it doesn't seem as if I have much time left.

Weight loss this week: 1 lbs
Total loss to date: 92.5 lbs
Weight to go: 7.5 lbs

And my weekly running stats:

Distance: 11.33 mi
Time: 02:00:18 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 253 ft
Avg Speed: 5.7 mph
Avg HR: 154 bpm
Calories: 1,455 C

It is going to be hot this week, so I suspect I will need to put my running shoes on hiatus for a couple of days. I tried to run on Saturday and it was just too blasted hot. I am going to shake it up with some pool time and Tony Horton time. Bring it!

Oh, and in other news... size 12, you are my new friend. I will declare that I am a now a bonified size 12 as evidenced by the fitting rooms of The Loft, J Jill, Marshalls and Banana Republic. I can't remember a time in my adult life that I routinely fit into size 12.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tuvalu... what the--- Who?

My mother continues her quiche tour of Madison this week at the Tuvalu Coffeehouse & Gallery in Verona, WI. We decided to check out this little main street establishment after hanging out there with the girls after a long bike ride several weekends back. I say hang out, cause we didn't actually eat there. We mingled on the deck waiting for out pizza from Falbos to come out of the oven. After loitering on their steps for several minutes we decided it was only fair of us to come back and actually buy something at some point. Yesterday seemed as good a day as any.

Tuvalu is a coffeehouse more than a breakfast joint. My opinion of the place was overall good, but this isn't a place where the menu options are going to wow you. You pretty much get what is available in the front display warmed up.

Lunch sandwich options appear more plentiful and it may be worth a stop some time around noon to give those options a try. Tuvalu's focus is the coffee and tea, which I will say, neither my Mom or I had mind to try.

Mom ordered a cheddar and broccoli quiche.

I ordered a spinach filled croissant.

Both of these items taunted us because fresh they would have both been very good. My mother was pleased with the cheesy goodness of the quiche and the crust, when fresh, appears to have been light and flaky. Reheated it was even good, but probably a couple of days old. My spinach pastry had that chewy reheated texture and of all of our tastes it was probably the least memorable. The yogurt parfait was yummy. It had Door County cherries, granola and would have been a complete breakfast in and of itself.

But, the icing on top of the cake was....

I was skeptical even ordering this roll because reheated it could have been a hard chewy rock, but it was delightfully light. And I am not just saying that cause I am on a diet (although that may clouded my perception a smidgen).

Overall the ambiance was a cross between your Mom's old living room and college dorm room. A strange mix of decor and a nod to the children rearing attendants with some activities as seen here:

The down low? I am sort of perplexed by this little place. I think I liked it but there was some essential quality lacking that would have made this a great place (ie. they should serve some eggs in some manifestation or another). I might try it again for lunch. I am not sure I would set my toddlers loose in the place, despite the attempt to be kid-friendly. There are just too many odds and ends for little hands to access. If you are looking for Stop Attacks on Wisconsin Worker signs for your own living room, you can pick one up next to the cream and sugar.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sundara Spa

As my friends (facebook and actual) know, Erik & I took off yesterday morning to spend the day at Sundara Spa in the Wisconsin Dells. I didn't have it in mind to write a formal review of our trip, which was, meant to be purely without thought, work or itinerary, however I was unable to ignore the following bits of interest.

The Facility
Now, when you sign up for an expensive spa treatment (and I would categorize this in the $150+ per treatment range) you expect certain luxuries. When you sign up for couple treatments, or multiple couple treatments, you definately expect them. So, I went in anticipating the best, but knowing that like last year, Sundara would likely fall short in several categories.

The first failing that this spa will not be able to overcome is design. The whole thing is built just wrong. I hate to tell you, but whatever architect you hired that designed the infinity pool to overlook the drive, and the outside patio / bar to sit adjacent to the truck/supply loading dock should never work again. A spa is meant to equal tranquility and peace - hardly achievable when there are UPS trucks delivering and new guests pulling up every 30 minutes.

Additional facility issues relate to lacking poolside lounge chairs to small locker rooms. The locker room is a labyrinth that makes it quaint and annoying. The redeeming feature that kept us coming back? The purifying bath... ah....

Additional disappointment on our trip. We had booked a Spa Together package as follows:

Sundara Energizer

105 Min.
Our Asara Spa Together room has a faraway feel to it, from the shimmery walls to the quarter moon windows. Along with the spa services in this package, enjoy the room's spectacular body spa, large enough for two, with 10 powerful water jets and a cascading waterfall.

$--- per person.

Sundara Signature Massage - 50 Min.
Sundara Sandstone Polish

Now, reading this description I made the following assumptions. First, that we were having two treatments in the same room. I don't think I am far fetched also in thinking that based on this description that we would have use, or time to use, the baths desribed as residing in the Asara room.

Not so. We had our massage in the Asara room. The baths were empty and taunting me. Our massage was over, we were told to meet our attendants in the hall. We returned to the quiet room and then had our second treatment in another room. Ultimately, I know that we had to be in the second room because it had the shower necessary for the Polish treatment, but the package was not as advertised. Had I known, I would have booked a couples massage only and skipped the package deal and the thought that were going to be able to enjoy the bath.

The Details

I noted a couple of additional curiosities while at the spa yesterday. As with most spas, the locker room is stock with products either from the featured line or the spa's own product line. The same is true here. However, the most used item - Body Lotion - was totally absent from the ladies room. The bottle was there with a nice little sticker across it that said - "Temporarily Unavailable." Another bottle, a product sold in the lobby was there. It was also empty. So, post spa with no lotion. I asked Erik if the men's locker room had body lotion. It did indeed! If I were Sundara, I would get some body lotion in the woman's locker room pronto cause there were some dry-skinned grumpy women in that room yesterday. At worst, if you have no other options, steal the one in the men's room, cause frankly, they are men, and they don't care about body lotion....

No face lotion at all. I know a lot of gals are picky about face lotion, but at least, have an option for those of us that aren't. I remembered this from last year and thankfully brought my own this year.

Not enough trash cans in the meditation / quiet room. Strange but noticeable. When drinking water/tea and noshing on granola you acquire a lot of cups. You even feel sillier looking around the damn room when your attendant comes and gets you and you can't find the trash to put your cups.

The ladies locker room attendant spent more time talking to her colleague about her hours than she did check to see that there was at least one toilet that was running low on toilet paper.

And my last gripe, if you are going to drop $13 on a cocktail poolside at least make it drinkable. The Pina Colada was ok if a bit weird. My husband's pineapple mojito was good. I splurged and ordered a champagne cocktail that was made with pineapple juice (instead of the listed cranberry) and I got to tell you, this was painful to drink. Take a hint from PF Changs, when at the spa, us girls want to drink yummy concoctions like this - aptly named "Poolside".

Oh, and they were out of fish tacos. Huh? When you only offer about 6 actual entrees, how can you be out of one of them?

And to sum up, lets just be clear, Sundara Spa is no Grove Park Inn. And for what we dropped in cash at Sundara we could have at least afforded the airfare to North Carolina, and maybe the rental car...

Monday, July 11, 2011


The word "sabatoge" has been floating in and out of my lexicon this week. It started with the divine hamburger I shoved down my throat on the 4th of July (frankly, I really don't think my body has YET to forgive me for that one). My sugar induced carb cravings continued thru the week, wherein I devoured the remaining loaf of sour dough bread from Target and the extra bites of caramel cheesecake that passed my lips last night.

Life happens.

Sabatoge is a deliberate subversion. Am I deliberately preventing myself of getting down to my goal weight? Honestly? No. I don't think it is deliberate. There is a bit of malaise setting in. The feeling that - I've done so much - at this point I just deserve my goal weight.

But you have to DO MORE than deserve it. You have to earn it. That is my mantra for this week. Earn it. Must keep chuggin up those stairs ala reference to random post pic above...

Weight loss this week: NADA - actually gained 2 lbs
Total loss to date: 91.5
Weight till goal weight: 8.5 lbs

and in keeping with my recounting my mileage for the week:

Distance: 15.17 mi
Time: 04:08:15 h:m:s (the time is all wrong due to me keeping my Garmin on during a scuplting routine post run)
Avg HR: 136 bpm
Calories: 2,270 C

I may have put on some weight but at least I keep pushing my runs further. Now, if it would just stop storming so I could get out there now!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Since this blog has no particular focus, I am going to shake things up and talk about the rather dull topic of....


Money. Jobs. Debt Ceilings. You've heard it, or rather, you've tried to ignore it. There is an approaching deadline in August that is the equivalent for the US of the "due date" on your own Visa card bill. The date by which, if you don't pay, you will enter the "default". Your interest rates will go up. You will incur additional fees. The credit gurus will see you as a risk and from here on out, every time you try to finance a car or house or education, it will cost you more and it will come from less reputable people.

Our government has reached that place. We can't pay our bills anymore. And we've got 3 weeks to figure it out. If this were my house - it is time to:

1. Cancel the cable
2. Cut the cell coverage
3. Go thru the old jewelry
4. Sell a car
5. Eat beans and rice
6. Consider a smaller house
7. Look for another job

Just some of Mara's ideas for the inside the beltway crowd.

Moreover, this morning, the most recent job report confirmed what a lot of employees who work for private companies know - there are no jobs. Companies are not hiring, and I hate to be Debbie Downer, but layoffs are coming (next week in the case of my own personal employer). I believe that a lot of companies have tightened the belt. They've tried to make small and effective changes (like swapping out your daily doughnut for a egg white omelet) and while those changes have had an impact it isn't enough fast enough. The problem remains that no money is being made. There is no business. More cuts have to take place. And that means, people. That means jobs. That means more unemployment, less growth and ramifications across the spectrum of the US economy.

Tough love people. We can't continue to think that the US Government is making it easier or better or is going to provide for us. They just can't do it anymore. It is time for the restrictions that are preventing businesses to do business be lifted, cut discretionary spending and realize that retirement is something that you are not entitled to and that it is only going to happen if you save for it.

I stand down.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Let's get Physical!

It was this time last year when a couple of well timed coincidences allowed me to see that my size was preventing me from being an active participant in my life.

The condensed version: A business trip to California (which was a low for me - purchasing a size 26 dress pants for comfort for the trip) and the accompanying plane ride. I used to love travel and now I dreaded the plane.

My total and complete inability to participate in the playing that my toddlers were enjoying in our front yard. My loyal followers will recall that it was the shameful purchase of a black swim suit bottom that put me over the top.

I was sidelined. I was sitting. I was watching the game of my life and I couldn't get off the bench. And it was my own fault.

As with all great revelations, it took me a couple of weeks to mull over the ramifications of my self declared 'benching'. As a responsible adult, I figured I should take the advice of all great weight loss programs, and consult my doctor prior to starting my diet or exercise regimen.

So, I called Dean. I requested an appointment for a physical. I am ashamed to admit that since I had been busy having babies or trying to have babies for the previous 5 or so years, I hadn't actually HAD a full blown physical - like - ever.

The receptionist nicely explained that they were booked solid. That she could put me in the system and if I needed to see a doctor for an issue that I could come in, but that she had no appointments for a physical until August ---wait for it --- 2012.

I was flabbergasted. Huh. Here I had done the responsible thing and made the first step towards addressing my health and they had no time for me.

I kept mulling. I thought a lot about the motivation for setting up the physical. I knew deep down in my heart of hearts exactly what they were going to tell me. All of the issues that I felt-- the increase in my blood pressure, the lack of energy, the mild depression-- that my weight and lack of exercise were the reason for it all.

I thought about what they would tell me to do about it. They -- the doctor, the nurses - would say:

"Mara, you need to eat less and do more."

The reluctant me would ask - "How doctor? How can I lose the weight?"

The doctor would say - "You make time, and you be selfish, and you just do it."

In the end, I realized that I didn't need a physical to get that advice. I wasn't stupid. I knew what I needed to do. I just needed to actually do it.

Why am I thinking about this now?

I went for my blood work this morning. My physical got rescheduled and is, in fact, next Monday evening. I had my blood drawn and they are doing a full review of my cholesterol, thyroid, liver function, you name it. I filled out my pre-appointment work sheet. I proudly put in my weight from last year and my weight today.

It would have been interesting to see what the blood work would have shown last year. Now I am certain the tests will show what I have been feeling deep down in my soul-- that I am well and good and fine, and all I really needed was time.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I am convinced. Sometimes you've just got to eat to lose weight. Yesterday I ate. Today, I registered this:

Weight loss this week: 2 lbs
Total loss to date: 93.5 lbs
Weight till next goal: 6.5 lbs

This week I ran:

Distance: 13.52 mi
Time: 02:56:16 h:m:s
Calories: 2,031 C

The most miles in any week thus far. Now, off to celebrate my independence!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sunroom Cafe

Continuing my tour of breaking my fast in new and exciting locales in Madison Wisconsin, my mother and I stopped into the Sunroom Cafe on Friday morning. The Sunroom is down on State Street tucked between some urban hippie import stores and third world food imports, up a rather humble looking staircase into a white walled cafe lined with local art and a chalkboard menu.

The cafe was clean, homey and lacking any obvious attempt at being cool or trendy. The menu boats a range of scramblers, omelette, pancakes and other baked goods.

Sticking with my high protein diet, I chose a omelette's with spinach, mushrooms and feta. My mother is a great lover of quiche and couldn't pass up the quiche of the day which was zucchini and Parmesan. We both choose orange juice.

The cafe was attended by a rather subdued group of folks. Breakfast was definitely what was going on here. Food was being consumed. A group of retirees on their weekly outing. A couple here, some students there.

Overall, we found the food to be dry. Both my mother's quiche and my omelet seemed to be lacking some essential quality. They were both just, well, so-so. The quiche was perhaps a day old and overheated. The eggs were a bit chewy and the crust was anything but crusty or flaky. My eggs were less than memorable. If it weren't for the feta, I am not sure I wouldn't have finished them. The accompanying toast was dry and potatoes were good if not too large for breakfast potatoes.

The down low:

Would I go back? If I were in the neighborhood and starving... maybe. Make a special trip? No.
Take the girls? Doesn't appear to be set up for kids although I didn't see any actual hindrances to children attendance.