Beautiful Ride

The somewhat self-indulgent rantings about the beautiful ride that is my life!

Gridiron Glory September 1, 2010

Summer is coming to an end, which is hard for me. I love the ease of summer. Bare feet, sundresses, the pool, the grill, the porch, not having to fight the kids to get up and get to school. Yes, I love the beautiful changing colors of fall. Yes, I love the crisp morning air. Yes, I love the cool, gentle breezes wafting through my windows while I drift off to sleep. And although these are all great reasons to welcome the changing of the seasons, they are also reminders of the long, cold, dark winter that is just around the corner. I’m not a big fan of the winter…the coats, the hats, the short days, the snowy nights. But I will try not to get ahead of myself…February is still many moons away…so for now, I will focus on waving goodbye to the lazy days of summer, and welcoming the return of long pants, denim jackets, scheduled activities…and football. Yes, football!

If you know me well, you know that football is my favorite part of the fall. When that first pre-season game comes on tv late in the summer, it’s like an old friend is back in town. I especially love the way it sounds–the whistles, the crowd, the crunch of shoulder pads, the marching bands in the background. I’ll take a Saturday afternoon high school or college game, a Sunday afternoon (or Monday/Thursday night) NFL game…it’s all good!

Football has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I remember sitting in my Aunt and Uncle’s den at the holidays, playing with lincoln logs and barbies, and listening to announcers discuss Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide and wondering why the Razorbacks fans wore such silly hats! I remember the family disputes over Pitt vs. Penn State (back in the day it was one of the biggest college games in Pennsylvania). I always rooted for Pitt, and even though I have many friends and family who are Penn State alums and/or  live in State College, my heart doesn’t break when Penn State loses. I remember begging my brother to play his Monday Night Football board game with me back in the 70s–he wasn’t thrilled, but I believe that’s where I learned about “downs” and “two-point conversions” and now the texts that fly back and forth between the two of us on game day have become a cherished routine. And of course, my Steelers! My terrible towel is proudly displayed throughout the season and I am a diehard fan. (Except for a brief “affair” that I had with the Baltimore Colts — not to be confused with the dreaded Baltimore Ravens–when I was in college–they had a cute QB, what can I say!)

And now, I have a whole new football experience to add to my portfolio.  Pop Warner! Our youngest son is proudly wearing #43 (Troy Polamalu!) for his first year of tackle football. He’s 10, and I was a bit worried about the whole tackle thing, but every day in practice he gets a little more confident and a little less timid. It’s a fantastic operation–the coaches focus on really teaching the fundamentals of the game–the rules, the nuances–it is about “winning,” but not necessarily “winning the game.” It’s about winning attitudes–being not only a good winner, but a good loser, a good teammate, a good friend, and yes, a good student. It’s about gaining skills and confidence and checking your egos at the gate and working as a cohesive unit. It has been so fun to watch, and such a great lesson for him. And it doesn’t hurt that he played in…and the team won…their first game last week. Here’s wishing the Maplewood/South Orange Packers (Bobcat Division) 7 more successful games…and a lifetime of memories!

*Photo of Bobcat Team courtesy of Maplewood Patch


On The Road Again June 27, 2010

Filed under: beautiful ride,Family,Health and Exercise,Home — beautifulride @ 9:41 am
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A little more than 90 days ago, I started a journey…a journey I’ve taken more than once. In the past, this journey has always ended one of two ways. The first ending (and the one I’ve always preferred) is a relatively easy, uneventful arrival at my desired destination, no surprises and no roadblocks. The second, and more familiar ending, is one of stops and starts, roadblocks and flat tires, and eventually I run out of gas and motivation and just stay put, or worse yet, I turn around and head back to where I started.

Like so many of us, this is a journey to be fit and healthy; a “quest” to achieve that “ideal” weight and body shape that has been drilled into our heads from a very early age. Like so many of us, I have struggled with this…from the “freshman” fifteen to the impact of 4 pregnancies over 10 years. I spent many years cooking “kid” food and chasing after boys, with little time or energy left to prepare healthy “grown-up” food or go for a run or hit the gym.  I’m not complaining. Exhausting as it is to have scads of little boys  zooming around you like a pack of wild dogs, I wouldn’t trade a minute of it … not even for the chance at a toned, tight, “bounce-a-quarter-off-those-abs” core. 

I’ve been down this road before, many times and many routes.  Success has come to me in the form of exercise (swimming in college and running on occasion) and following programs that stress portion control and healthy combinations of real food, prepared by me (like LA Weight Loss). Less success has come in the form of trendy diets like the Mayo Clinic diet (remember the hot dogs, beets, and ice cream!) and the pre-packaged foods that left me lost when I had to go back to preparing my own meal (think Jenny Craig–no offense to many co-workers and friends who have had great success on this program–just not me!) I’ve read all the books and tried scores of “programs.”

Fast forward to the here and now. Three of the boys are teenagers now and I’m learning that boys can have body image issues too, just like teenage girls. Now I need to be careful to send the right message about health and fitness. Now it’s time to practice the “life lessons” that I preach day in and day out–do your best, keep trying, a small victory is still a victory, slow and steady wins the race, there are no quick fixes…I’m sure you’ve heard them all.  I don’t want them to be empty words. So I made myself a promise…that I would start a road trip to health and fitness.  Not one that ends when I reach a magic number on the scale. Not one that lets me get lazy the minute I feel comfortable in my jeans. Instead, one that can weave itself into the everyday rhythm of my life, like my morning cup of coffee.  So I did.  

I gave up the excuses for not being able to find time. When it’s important, you find the time. I’ve learned to be flexible. I’ve committed to 7 hours of exercise a week. In 90 days, I missed one workout, just one. Sometimes I get it done at 5 am, sometimes at 9:30 pm…but I get it done. It has become a way of life for me. The P90x has been a great motivator…focusing on learning and growing and pushing yourself a little more everyday, but not making you feel like a failure if you can only do 2 push ups instead of 20, stressing that over time, you’ll improve. (BTW…yesterday I did a total of 75!) I feel so energized that I can’t imagine not doing some kind of physical activity everyday. I do my best to eat well everyday, but again, it’s a slow gradual change. Add veggies here, take away processed food there. I know the change is happening, the right change, because at the beginning, the numbers on the scale were worrisome…not moving, not losing, wondering if I made the right decision. I decided to stay off the scale…and it was hard. At first I had to force myself not to step on…as a gauge of my “progress.” Now, I forget to get on the scale, walk right by it without a second glance. Every two weeks or so I remember to hop on–imagine my surprise when I found out I’d lost 9 lbs.  I’ve learned to work out because it gives me energy and confidence. I’ve learned to eat right because it makes me feel good. I’ve learned that results happen if I keep trying, even if I’m not perfect. I’ve learned that the boys are watching because they have been making healthier choices, spending more time playing basketball and less time inside, and are starting workout programs of their own. And although they laugh at me when I do some of the “moves” from my workout, they are always encouraging and supportive. They don’t let me quit and they remind me that little victories are still victories.

Life is about the journey…not the destination. The value is in what we learn along the way and the secret is to never stop learning, never stop trying, never believe that you’ve arrived…because then you aren’t living anymore!


P90X Rocks! March 30, 2010

Filed under: Health and Exercise — beautifulride @ 10:20 pm
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Ok, so I started a new workout program last week.  It’s called P90X and it is an extreme home program.  At least that’s what the infomercial says.  I heard about it from a family member who had just finished her first month, and she couldn’t say enough good stuff about it.  She said it was the hardest thing she had ever done, and the best thing she had ever done.  Where she had been feeling tired and achy and stuffed into her clothes, she now felt energetic and slim and was wearing jeans she hadn’t worn in forever—and she was down 11+ pounds after the first month.  So I went to the website, whipped out the credit card, and told my husband I had a surprise for him…for us! 

About 5 years ago, as we approached that magic number of 40, we both worked really hard to lose some weight.  We didn’t want to be that couple that just let it all slide as we moved into our forties, claiming we were just too busy with our jobs and our sons and our lives. We wanted to be that couple that spent time taking care of themselves, keeping fit and active.  We had our kids early, so we wanted to be able to go out and enjoy the things we didn’t get to do 20 years ago, travel mostly, and look good doing it! And I must admit—we looked pretty good. (Although we haven’t traveled that much yet, but we’re working on it!)

But, of course, over the last five years, a little weight here and a little weight there crept back–we aren’t gross or obese or anything, but we are not fit and trim either.  So here we go…or here I go.  I started one week ago and he has yet to join me, but he will at week’s end, when he returns from a business trip.  I love it—I’ve actually gained two pounds, but I’m told that is perfectly normal in the first two weeks. Seems as your lame, tired body with no tone begins to use those underdeveloped muscles, they get sore and inflamed and retain some fluid.  No worries—after about two weeks, the muscles adjust and release the fluid. For this, I can be patient!

By the way, this is the hardest, most extreme exercise routine I have ever tried—and I trained for a half-marathon 3 years ago! Some of the exercises are just cruel and unusual punishment—and I can barely do many of them. But I have a great coach in my 10-year-old son, and his cheers of  “you can do it, Mom” and “hey, I can see a few muscles there,” give me hope. So I will lunge forward and keep on keepin’ on!