Thursday, March 15, 2012

Radio Silence

My bad for not posting sooner. It has been sunny out, and, well I've been enjoying some quiet.

It all started when I was reading an article in Women's Health while elipticizing in a bass-pumping, grunt-filled gym. Essentially, this article claims that too much noise in one's life can have detrimental effects on one's body, and that even moments people perceive as "quiet" are really filled with noise. Traffic, shrieking birds, overheard iPod songs, and even casual conversations can harm not only your ears, but your total stress level. This in turn weakens your immune system and raises your blood pressure. Even if you don't feel stress, your body still registers all of these noises as stress and subtly bears the brunt of the impact.

I'm a loud person. I can't whisper, I love the chaos and bustle of both city living and my job in a junior high. But something about this article really forced me to sit up and pay attention. Even when I'm by myself, I enjoy reading with the tv or radio on in the background. I've spent so much of my life surrounded by noise and chaos, that I'm uncomfortable with the silence. I feel my body relaxing, but my mind just can't follow suit.

So, I did a little experiment. The last three days in Chicago, the sun has been shining, and yesterday we even hit a record 80 degrees unheard of degrees. In March. Freaking awesome. Starting on Monday, I turned the radio off on my way home or to the gym. I didn't get on my phone, I didn't start tapping my fingers. I just forced myself to be quiet. And it was heavenly.

Once I made the space for my brain to adjust to the quiet, my mind started appreciating. I really thought about the way the sun felt on my shoulders. I really noticed all the cute little kids kids clutching their doe-eyed mothers' arms. I felt thankful for what I have, and how far I've come professionally and personally in the last year. I started thinking about my friends, and resolved to make more of an effort to spend time with them. My Monday experiment has turned into a daily habit. For forty uninterrupted minutes, I make a conscious effort to eliminate the noise I have control over, and in the process, I can feel a difference. This "me" time has translated into a more productive self at work, and a calmer wife at home.

Have you ever tried to eliminate the noise in your life? Have you ever intentionally thought about the noises surrounding you? Or am I just a crazy hippie liberal?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Unsolicited Advice

It's no secret that I live to eat. I love food, and as such, I have very little self-control. The eating, fattening, working out cycle has led me to have a constant 5-10 pounds hanging around that I need to lose. Kev is in the same boat, so a few months ago, we agreed to spend the money on a once-per-week personal training session. Our trainer, James, is amazing. He's extremely motivational, and lost over one hundred pounds healthily and alone before becoming a trainer. I love him, even though he kicks my ass. And let me tell you, friends, ass-kicking is his specialty. Every week, the man comes up with a new and fresh way to make me feel like I'm going to pass out. I've realized, though, that once a week is just not going to cut it. If I really want to see results, I will need to swap out some of my weenie gym moves, and incorporate more of his prescribed burpees, woodchoppers, and stair runs.

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty freaking good about myself. I didn't have to work until nine, so I decided to wake up at my normal time and hit the gym before work. This was pretty much a miracle, since I've been fighting a RA flare in my hands that has left me exhausted. But off I went. After doing twenty minutes on the stair-stepper and another 15 on the bike, I decided to round out my workout with five sets of ten-twelve burpees each. They make me sore in my jiggly bits, which is awesome.

I have to admit, I was feeling pretty damn smug about myself as I finished my first set. James saw me and told me he was proud of me, I was still ahead of schedule to get to work on time, and I would be able to go home and take a nap after work. Huzzah! Suddenly, a gigantic square of a man walked up to me.

"Hey lady," he said, "Are those burpees?"

No, they are jumps for joy. Of course they are burpees. Can't you tell by my superior form and swanlike grace? I thought

"Why, yes" I responded pleasantly to the man foolish enough to approach me before ten a.m.

"I've done a lot of burpees in my day, and I just thought you should know there are better workouts out there."

"....." (gritting teeth and ignoring until he walked away after a ten-second-pause-of-doom.

Harumph. WTF.

I get that this man was probably proud of his non waistline and no neck, but honestly, I didn't ask for his help. I was doing what my fitness professional told me to do, I was completing a previously unheard of for me morning workout, and I was taking positive steps to shrink my health risks and waistline. Moreover, I was challenging myself.

I am in no way qualified to give workout advice, but even if I were, I certainly would not butt in and offer it unsolicited. I'm not sure if the guy was feeling sorry for the pitiful chubby girl with the gnarly hands, or if he was feeling uber-macho in his sweaty cotton t-shirt, but either way, he should have butted out. Although common in our society, working out is sort of a personal thing. You have goals and plans that match what works for your body, and you should be allowed to go about these plans in peace (unless you are paying James the ass-kicker). People of the world, do not go offering workout tips unasked. You may regret it.

That evil man better watch his back. Once I stop being so sore, I'm going to give him the meanest glower there ever was. Jerk.