Finding some (extra) time


Who knew so much could get done in 15 minutes?

The day our morning routines shake out, my husband leaves for work about an hour before I do — and I typically am ready in about 30 minutes, give or take, which often gives me an elusive 15-20 minute window to do whatever before I have to leave for work.

It doesn’t sound like much, but 15 minutes of focused energy on a single task is actually a lot.

Sometimes I clean.

Or watch a slice of “Good Morning America.”

Or pack up a lunch for the day.

Or grab my Kindle and read, read, read.

Lately I’ve been wrapping Christmas presents, participating in the 12 Days of Love Letters by writing out a card and packing up Etsy orders to ship.

My new favorite wind-down activity: reading magazines! As a lifelong book reader, I never bothered to pick up one of the many mags lining the tables at my parents’ house. But after a subscription snafu wound up granting me a year of Glamour, I’ve actually been sitting down with coffee — at home — and flipping through it before work.

It’s pretty glorious.

Lately I’ve actually been getting ready for work faster so I’ll have a little extra time to hang out on the sofa. As someone who once slapped her snooze button at least three times before finally pouring herself into the shower, then running around before eventually sprinting out the door, this new routine is surprising . . . but wonderful.

It feels nice to rush less, think more.

To have time for simple projects that mean something to me.

In the quiet mornings just after I wish Spence a good day, I sit in the stillness of our space and feel . . . good.

Whole. Happy.

And if I love my 15 minutes so much? Imagine how I’d feel if I had a whole hour.

Have a happy weekend, friends! I’ll be back Monday with a big, fat, sparkly post brimming with my tips on surviving — and thriving! — throughout the wedding planning process. Dec. 16 marks one year since we got engaged. Oh, how time flies! ❤

Finding ‘My Thing’ — or, an adventure in Zumba

I’m a shapely woman. I recently heard a lady lamenting the fact that her “thighs can touch” and could only snort with laughter that . . . well, that someone could have thighs that don’t touch. I mean, really — what must that be like?

I don’t know. I don’t bother to ask myself impossible questions.

Still, I can’t play off my weight with bravado all the time. I’m a confident person and know I’m not unattractive, but I’m not always happy with how I look. But who is, right? I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone not looking to drop five pounds or so.

Or, you know. Forty.

My boyfriend and I joined a gym last year and went pretty faithfully . . . for a while. We switched gyms, Spencer moved, I went on several trips in a short period of time and, before we knew it, our routine was destroyed. My one-time enthusiasm for treadmills had worn thin. Mustering up the energy to work out became torture — and gradually, we just stopped going.

You know those Kaiser Permanente commercials — the ones that encourage you to “Find Your Thing”? There has to be one form of exercise that interests you, they say. There has to be something that doesn’t feel like a new form of suffering invented solely to destroy you. You just have to experiment until you find out what it is.

I know how important it is for me to get to and maintain a healthy weight. Since I’m also short, my ideal weight is ridiculous. Medically, my ideal weight is between 107 and 141 pounds. I haven’t been around 120 pounds since middle school, and I can’t envision getting back into 13-year-old me shape anytime soon.

And you know what? I wouldn’t want to. This isn’t about being skinny. This is about feeling confident in clothes that aren’t bursting at the seams, and being able to travel without feeling like the slowest thing goin’. This is about setting myself up for healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Though I was briefly scared straight while trying to fit into a bridesmaid dress for my friend’s beautiful wedding in September, I fell back into old habits as soon as the nuptials were over.

But I’ve found something.

I’ve found A Thing.

My friend Sandy — officemate; fellow reader — is often trying to find Her Thing, too. Over the years we’ve been seated within eyesight of each other for eight hours a day, every day, we’ve shared our battles with weight and exercise and continuously sought something that might work. Last month, Sandy heard about a dance fitness class held two nights a week. It was conveniently located for both of us and, though I’m probably the world’s most awkward dancer, I agreed to give it a shot. You could pay by the class — no commitment.

So now I Zumba.

For the first few classes, I was so afraid of embarrassing myself that I could barely follow the moves. Our instructor is young and sassy, friendly and encouraging, but I was petrified of looking really stupid. Sandy and I stood at the back of the room. I focused only on completing the dance moves in a class of more than 50 women, most of whom seemed to know far more than me.

But time has passed. I’ve gotten into a groove. After more than a month, I find myself relaxing into the routines and recognizing the songs. Once stiff and uncomfortable, I’m now relaxed on the dance floor. Many women joined the class after us and we’re no longer the “new ones.”

And last Thursday, Sandy and I were almost at the front of the room.

Nothing gave me a jolt like seeing a gaggle of giggly teenage girls in the back of the room. They were tall and lean and wearing the shortest little short shorts you’ve ever seen, bare midriffs on display. Mind you, the average age in our class is probably, oh — 40, I’d guess. Our little buddies thought they were the hottest things going.

When the first pump of the music began, I felt myself drift into the beat. Sandy and I often laugh during routines, refusing to take the whole thing too seriously. Zumba is really just dancing like crazy, and it actually is fun. And I felt strong and fit. As we segued into routines I knew by heart, I got a glimpse of the teens again.

They had no idea what they were doing.

Our instructor is all about “Zumba love.” I know it’s not nice to judge people who are just trying to work out and have fun — same as me. But did it feel good to see those skinny chickadees completely dumb-founded in the middle of the room, wickedly uncomfortable and unable to land a move correctly? My size-12 tail was a-shakin’ while they tried not to bump into one another, unable to catch up.

I couldn’t help it. I smiled.

Running (or walking?) for my life

photo by Flickr user d70focus

photo by Flickr user d70focus

Knowing myself as well as I do, I’ve been hesitant to blog about this . . . but I feel the time has officially come. Spurred on by recent success in the weight department, I’m happy to report that . . . I am regularly exercising! Like, every night! Two or three miles! And not in some sissy, Megan-esque way where I pretend like I’m motivated only to spend twenty minutes on the treadmill and forty in a chair, eating Twizzlers and drinking Diet Root Beer.

No, no, no. Those days are gone. This is the new me — the improved me! And not just because I’m losing weight (though that’s a nice bonus, too). I work in an office and spend 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. with one leg curled beneath me, firmly planted in my broken rolling desk chair. Save my daily outings to grab lunch at Panera or Einstein’s or the very short jaunt to the water cooler, I don’t move around much. When I had to park miles away from my classes in college, I didn’t have any problems keeping my weight down . . . but those glorious days are done!

In the two years since I graduated, I know I’ve gotten complacent. The weight came on slowly and, busy with all the little insanities of life, I ignored it. But a month ago, it was literally like a switch went off on my brain . . . not to bemoan the classic cliches, but I was tired of being tired. I had little energy and drank two or three sodas a day. I spent all day in a state of basic inertia, my exercise limited to flexing my fingers on the keyboard or stretching my feet out in heels. Cheered on by my awesome coworkers who are also trying to get in shape, we all decided that now was the time. And I wasn’t going to talk about feeling better anymore — I was just going to do it.

Walking guru Leslie Sansone -- my hero!

Walking guru Leslie Sansone -- my hero!

And I’m doing it. I’ve (almost) completely given up soda — even diet! — and drinking tons of water a day. I’m not dieting (I wouldn’t even know where to begin!), but I am making healthier food choices and trying to cut out all my extra snacks. I’ve walked on the treadmill off and on since last year, but I wasn’t putting my heart into it long enough to make a real difference. So I’ve abandoned that for now in favor of . . . walking DVDs. Leslie Sansone’s walking DVDs, to be exact! And I absolutely love them. Her routines are so easy, fun and really empowering, and just walking to her pace and following her movements lets you “walk away the pounds.” I’m now in week four of my almost-nightly walking regime, and I already feel so much better. I don’t know how much weight I’ve lost — we don’t keep a scale in the house — but I’m definitely seeing a difference. I have more energy, I’m sleeping better — even my skin seems clearer. Basically, I’m jazzed!

I only hope that I can keep up my routine as the initial excitement of forming this new behavior and watching some of the weight fall off wears away. I’m tired after walking/jogging three miles a night, but I’m not exhausted. Pretty soon I’ll have to start pushing myself to finish four miles, and the DVD I have — Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home: 5 Mile Fat Burning Walk — guides you through fives miles if you can stand it! I can’t imagine walking five 12-minute miles in a row, but maybe I’ll get there eventually. Feet (and body), don’t fail me now!