Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fitness Schmitness

Last May, I found and fell in love with a new fitness class. In general, I'm not a new-trend kind of girl when it comes to fitness. I prefer go to the gym: cardio, lift, abs, done. (Or better yet, bypass the gym altogether and go outside!) Spinning, soul-cycle, hot yoga; not my cup of tea. For a while, I just assumed I have gotten too old for the new fitness classes. Then, I discovered Pound!

Pound isn't so much a workout class, as a trip down memory lane. Remember coming home from school and blasting Mtv when your Mom wasn't home to turn down the volume? Drumming on the desk with pencils when you were supposed to be doing your math homework ? Or later- cranking the radio and driving faster than the speed limit as you banged out the beat on the steering wheel? That's Pound.

In Pound, you have a set of lightly weighted plastic drumsticks which you bang on the floor, clap together over your head, reach to the side, reach forward, reach back- the possibilities are endless. But hitting the floor is the most fun. All the while, great music is playing- LOUD. I'm not talking the  dance/house/electronic music that usually accompanies workout classes. I'm talking classic rock, grunge, heavy metal, and some bad-ass rocker-chic empowerment songs. This was my kind of class!

At the end of my first Pound class, I thought: well, that was fun, but I don't really think I got a good workout. I'll just do extra tomorrow.

Then tomorrow came, and I could barely drag myself out of bed to the warm shower to stretch my aching body. Wow! I've never encountered a workout class that works the obliques more. I was as sore as I am the day after a tough mudder. I was immediately hooked.

And so summer passed, and my favorite part of the week was Pound. (Even when they played more top-40-ish songs, instead of classic rock!) I started to learn the moves, I started to get less sore, I started to think that maybe I was a fitness-trend kind of girl, after all. I loved it!

At the end of my work contract, I found another job in another town. My first order of business after moving and getting settled was to find the gym with the best Pound class. To my dismay, I learned that none of the area gyms HAD a Pound class! What was I ever going to do? My favorite part of the week was gone!

I got a DVD from the Pound website. Which was okay- but for some reason had generic, bland house music in the background. Plus, pounding alone isn't nearly as much fun as pounding with a group. Every time I went to the gym to workout (cardio, lift, abs, done), I thought: "Somebody around here really needs to start a Pound class!"

And then I thought: "I'm somebody."

Which is how last weekend I found myself at a class to become a fitness rebel- with Pound certification!

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Artist's Way- Week One

Week One: Recovering a Sense of Safety

I think my favorite aspect of this program is that it embraces silliness. So often in life, we get caught up in our responsibilities: our jobs, our bills, our chores around the house, taking care of the kids, driving the kids to all of their activities, walking the dog, getting our 10,000 steps in, and posting on our carefully crafted social media accounts. All those things we HAVE to do, in order to be a responsible adult.

This program forces you to do things for no other reason than stepping out of that role of responsible adult. What were all those things you did as a kid when you had a few hours of unstructured time after school? Did you listen to a record over and over and over again, memorizing the lyrics so you could sing it at the top of your lungs? Did you draw medieval castles? Did you play guitar? (Or air guitar?) Did you make up dances in your basement? Did you go on endless walks around the neighborhood or in the woods by your house? Did you practice tricks on your skateboard? Did you build a fort or redecorate your room? Those things. Those are the kinds of things that pop up in the exercises at the end of the chapter each week.

Strangely, those silly things end up becoming really profound at the end of 12 weeks.

One of my favorite exercises week one is: Imaginary Lives.  Pretend you have 5 more lives to live. What would you do? And it doesn't matter if you aren't good at whatever you choose. You can still be a lounge singer in your imaginary life if you are completely tone deaf in this one. You can be an accountant if you failed math 3 times in high school. (though why anyone would spend one of their imaginary lives on accountant is beyond me!)

One of my favorite techniques is one I picked up at the Julia Cameron retreat a couple weeks ago: do it fast! Don't overthink things. Set a timer for 3 minutes and write furiously for 3 minutes. (When we allow ourselves a long time to think about things, we often venture out of silly land and into the kingdom of responsibility.) Plus, I found that when I did the exercises this way- fast and furious- I often looked back at my answer and thought "Wow. I didn't know I thought that until right now."  Because those fast and furious answers had a definite aura of truth to them.

See? Silly and profound!


WRITER Of course. Always. My fast and furious self chose not a fiction writer or a travel writer (as my brain would pick),  bit more of an investigative or research journalist in the vein of Malcolm Gladwell or Gretchen Rubin. Looking around at the piles of books I have yet to read, I see that this type of writing is what I gravitate toward. Even if many of the books are now serving as unread decorations.

ROCK STAR And, of course. Doesn't everyone want to be a rock star? We've even commandeered  the term rock star to mean excellence in ANY field! But seriously- a life of creating and collaborating and experimenting with different styles. And travel. Quite frankly, I'd be happy with the life of most non-rockstar musicians- crammed in a van with the long road ahead and a big bag of snacks.

 SCIENTIST Not a laboratory scientist, but more like a field scientist. Gathering samples of ocean water or living amongst the apes like Jane Goodall. Or a social scientist studying the motivations and habits of us weird humans. I think the only thing that would be really frustrating about this profession is that I find that the more  I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.

SPECIAL EFFECTS EXPERT Kind of a strange one for me, since these are people who spend lots of times indoors and have that pasty skin. But I imagine the chance to collaborate with a team of smart, creative people all working toward the same goal. The chance to think outside the norm. Plus, I really like movies.

TOUR GUIDE: Somewhere cool. Like Rome or Paris. Or  trip leader along the Inca Trail. It would be empowering, I think, to share knowledge about an amazing place with other people. And amazing to see these places over and over again (like that record I listened to in my room after school). Several years ago, I went to Italy with my two best friends and we toured the Vatican. I remember thinking that this tour guide saw the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel EVERY DAY!  And then immediately thinking that I really picked the wrong major in college! I've never fully gotten over that realization.

Monday, October 9, 2017


A couple years ago, I worked with a guy who was REALLY into Crossfit. He was one of those super extreme type A people who talked incessantly about "the box" and a paleo lifestyle. He was also really good at his job.

Anyway, one of the tools they used at his Crossfit box was the 30 Day Challenge. Each month, the members would pick a challenge that they pursued for 30 days. At the end of the month, the successful participants would get their name up on The Board.

I thought that was a great idea. After all, I am a super-big fan of goal setting and Challenges, be they 14 day, 21 day, 30 day or anything else.

I was not, however, a fan of this guy when he was doing a 30 day challenge.

The first challenge of the year was "No Complaining" for 30 days. A decent challenge- certainly well intentioned and good for self improvement. The challenge went pretty well for about 4-5 days. And then he'd suddenly get really agitated and frustrated. "I have to start over one day one!"

This pattern continued until mid-way through February. He'd start off, do well for a few days, then he'd inadvertently complain about something. And start over on day one. Again and again and again.

Finally, one day I asked him "Wasn't No Complaining January's challenge? How come you haven't moved on to the next challenge?"

"I haven't completed the first challenge" he said. "I have to go 30 full days in order to complete the challenge. Then, and only then can I move on to the next one."

"But that doesn't seem to be working" I responded. "Wouldn't it make more sense to, maybe, keep a journal during the challenge? If you end up complaining about something, then you write it down and include when you complained and about what and what was going on when you complained. Then, you could look for patterns. For instance, if you notice that every Monday morning, you complain about traffic, you may realize that you are leaving the house late every Monday and vow to get yourself organized on Sunday night so you can leave on time. Or if you notice that you complain mainly in the mid afternoon hours, you may conclude that paleo is completely insane and eat some chocolate, already!"  (I didn't say that. I actually said that maybe you need to eat a handful of almonds or some cheese. But I totally THOUGHT chocolate!)

"Well, I can see how that would have some benefits. And that does make sense. But that's not what the challenge is. The challenge is to get through 30 days."

"Is that really the point?" I asked. "Isn't the bottom like to learn and grow as a person? Not just to get up on the board."

"Well, learning and growing is desirable," he said. "But the real point IS to get up on the board."

I tell that story not to belittle my former co-worker, nor to make myself look superior. I tell that story simply because it is very similar to my life last week. Last week, I set a number of ambitious goals for myself that meant a lot to me and are things that I strongly aspire to. And then, last week, a number of those goals fell apart.

Some of the time it was completely out of my control. Like when my computer crapped out on my and lost all the documentation I had on every single patient I had seen that day. And I had to stay and extra 2 1/2 hours to re-do all my paper work on a computer that kept freezing up on me.  Some of the time, I had to make choices between two equally desirable occurrences. Since there is not an infinite number of hours in the day and also since I cannot split myself in two, I had to choose one over the other. And a couple times I was just too exhausted and needed an extra 30 minutes of sleep.

So this week, I am starting anew. Not in a "Oh, crap! I have to start over from the very beginning!" kind of way. More in a "This week is a blank slate and I can get back on track" kind of way. My end goal, after all, is to grow as a person, not to get my name on The Board.

Oh! And P.S.>  There was actually a reason that my friend was so obsessed with The Board. I just didn't know it at the time. He is now a Crossfit coach and he had to successfully complete a certain number of those 30 day challenges without going insane. So all's well that ends well. I'm gonna go eat some chocolate.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Artist Way

Many, many years ago, I discovered a 12 week program called The Artist's Way, quite by accident. I was attending a holistic health seminar in Boston, and for my afternoon session, I had planned on seeing a talk by Dr Andrew Weil. To my dismay, I found that you needed to reserve your spots for the afternoon sessions beforehand and there were no more seats available for Dr Weil. I was directed to a syllabus that included sessions that still have available seats. And I ended up in a lecture given by Julia Cameron.

I had never heard of Julia Cameron, I had no idea what this lecture was about. I was a bit unnerved when this blonde, flowy, colorful person came out and made us all get up and SING. I was even more skeptical when she had us turn to the person next to us and take turns describing in intimate detail, our earliest memory...in three minutes....go! What had I gotten myself into?

At the end of the 90 minute session, I had reached the conclusion that this Julia Cameron character- was an absolute genius! She was spectacular! I came out of the lecture and walked right to the book table in the foyer to purchase her book, The Artist Way.

I have completed the 12 week program a number of times since then (once outlining the task on this very blog) with great success. The program is as much a journey of self discovery as it is a path to creativity. It makes use of various tools, the big three are "morning pages", "the artist date", and walking. It's pretty powerful.

It's been a while since  I last did the Artist Way.

Then, a couple weeks ago something quite serendipitous happened; I went to the waiting room to get a patient at work and on the table, I found a flyer for an Artist Way retreat. Led by none other than Julia Cameron. For that coming weekend. In Sedona.

(I should probably clarify at this point, that right now, I'm living in Sedona.)

I checked it out online and saw that there were still spots left. And I spent the weekend with ol' Julia.

It's been a very long time since that seminar in Boston. Julia is still just as blonde and just as flowy. She's a bit less colorful, but that's because she's taken to that artist-y habit of dressing in all black. Her colorful flair was relegated to her spectacular necklace, scarf, and shoes.

Yes, she made us sing.

Yes, she made up break up into groups and share things like: "If your inner critic had a name and occupation, what would they be?" (Patricia. And she's a rich socialite with no discernible profession) "Who was the first friend in school who betrayed you?" and "What advice would Obi Wan Kenobe give to you right now?

It sounds ridiculous and trite. And sometimes it even FELT ridiculous and trite. But as the exercises progressed from Obi Wan Kenobe to your parents to your "most important relationship when you were between 18-25", it became less trite. And when you started pondering things like "Growing up, if your concept of God was NOT the Adam and Eve, judgmental God that you learned about in church, but maybe more like Dumbledore or Santa Claus, would your actions and decisions have been different", you start questioning things about yourself that your thought were just YOU.

There were lots of tissues going around. I had a headache at the lunchtime the first day.

At the end of the weekend, I was fuzzyheaded and over-full but simultaneously empty. I had a lot to think about. And I pulled out my old copy of The Artist's Way for another go-round.

That Julia Cameron, she's a frickin genius!

Monday, October 2, 2017


I used to be such a goals setter. Well, I still am kind of a goal setter. Unfortunately, I somehow got the idea in my head that I could just keep all the goals inside my head. That doesn't work. They goals get all mixed up and lost with all the bad ideas in there.

There's something about writing down the goals that make you commit just  little bit more. There's something extra about posting them where others can see that takes it up one more notch. I like going up one more notch.

1) Work Out Every Day: Not just weekdays. Or not just weekends. And especially not just on days when I feel like it. There were way too many of those days over the summer. Sitting in the sun is nice. But working the body is even nicer.

2) Big Hiking Goal- South Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail I've been wanting to do a Grand Canyon hike for a while, but haven't gotten around to getting permits, which means there are no more overnight permits. So I'm taking the plunge- 18 miles, down and up. Weather permitting and body permitting. I can do this!

3) Get Halloween gifts for the kids and mail them out It's tough being away from the munchkins. Especially when its costume time. (or as Brandon says- "October! Breast cancer awareness month! I can wear pink every day!") So I need to get them a little something to smile about and mail it out.

4) Clean Eating: In addition to all the usual reasons for clean eating (health, weight, performance, etc) I have another, really important reason to stick with this. I need to show somebody that clean eating is not only possible, but advantageous. It would be pretty hypocritical of me to preach clean eating and then down as much junk as I can get my hands on, wouldn't it?

5) Get the dent on my car fixed, already! 

6) Finish up the outstanding classes I have half finished: Manual therapy for Sciatica Treatment, Modalities, Skillshare class, and Daring Greatly. (Hey! Four classes for 4 weeks!)

7) Journaling and Blogging Daily Cause even just one day of journaling and blogging has made me feel so much more centered!

8) Four Handwritten Letters to Friends. Social media has gone beyond impersonal. It's just mean, now. But a handwritten note in the mailbox? So uplifting. I hope.

9)  POUND certification and start teaching. POUND is just about the greatest thing I've come across in fitness since triathlons and hiking. Plus, I get to pretend I'm a rock star.

10) Sleep Outside at least one night I've pretty much embraced the idea that the only way I'm going to get a spot to pitch my tent around here is in a really remote, primitive campsite with no water. Of course, that's my favorite kind of camping. So there's really no reason I haven't just DONE IT already! (Maybe because I didn't commit to it as a goal and write it down)

Hiking, camping, working out, learning, and connecting with loved ones. Pretty good intentions for October!!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Once upon a time, I had a blog. I started it during a hard time in my life, a time when I was going through a difficult break-up, a time when I felt discarded, lost, and directionless. A time when I felt as if I had lost myself. I started a blog to find myself once again.

I never really expected anyone to read my blog. I'm unclear as to why I didn't just journal in a notebook. Probably because I had heard the concept of a blog and thought I'd start one. Not because I thought I'd meet people and form a little network of bloggers that I'd come to think of as my friends. But that's exactly what happened.

Somehow, I found a handful of people whose blogs I eagerly read and who in turn read and commented on mine. They became my lifeboat. They became my cheerleaders. They became my online family.

Through the process of blogging and bonding, I found myself once again. I found my voice. I found my sense of humor. I found my sense of self. I found my confidence. I found the courage to change my outlook and my life. And I documented it all on the blog, encouraged and congratulated by my family of bloggers.

At the same time, I saw those people going through life events and growing, changing, taking risks. I laughed with them, cried with them, was anxious and fearful with them. I celebrated with them. I met possible love interests with them and followed along to their end or the jump to the next step.

And in my own life, I took the next step.

My next step wasn't a romantic endeavor, but an adventurous endeavor. In 2013, and then again in 2015, I quit my job and I hiked the country south to north first on the Appalachian Trail and then on the Pacific Crest Trail. I recorded THOSE adventures on a different blog (Heatherhikes.com) For some reason, I wanted to keep that blog completely separate from Jeepgirl. (It seemed really important to me at the time, but I cannot recall why now.) In any case, while I was out there hiking and camping and getting blisters and getting rained on, I let Jeepgirl go silent.

It's been silent around here for a long time.

And then, today, for no particular reason, I decided to see if this blog was still active.

It was.

And that made me so happy.

I've checked in on my blog family from time to time, and many of them have let their blogs go silent, as well. They have moved on, gotten married (or divorced); developed an illness or overcome one; started families, bought houses, traveled around the world.

Or so I imagine.

I wish them all well.

And I hope that maybe sometime, if they decide to check in on Jeepgirl, they will be pleasantly surprised that I have emerged once again.

This blog has always been a happy place for me. I'm glad to be back.