Thursday, March 26, 2009

Endorphin Rush

Is it possible to exercise everyday and still not be in very good shape?

Well, if it is, that is exactly what I have been doing for the last several years. You see, when I moved across town in October, I had to quit my beloved fancy gym. Okay, I didn't have to quit, but I now live further away from the Fancy Gym, while a nearly-as-fancy facility is mere steps away from my front door. So I traded uber-luxury for convenience, and now I only have to walk two blocks when I want to exercise indoors. When I joined the Just About As Fancy Gym, the membership director managed to sell me three personal training sessions at a special rate. It didn't take much coercion; I was so desolate over leaving the Fancy Gym that I just handed her my credit card. She probably could have sold me a car, and I just would have charged it without thinking.

Anyway. I've had a trainer before. Back in 2003, also known as The Year I Was In the Best Shape of My Life, I had a deal through my job that allowed me free personal training at 24 Hour Fitness. Not at all fancy, but did I mention that the personal training was free? I had training sessions 2 to 3 times a week for nine months. I imagine now you understand why I was in the best shape of my life that year.

But that was then and this is now.

I have been very aware over the last couple of years, especially, that I have gained a little weight (not much; I'm still rather slender) and that my workouts and runs are not what they used to be. However, I had no idea just how out of shape I had become. Once I used those personal training sessions at Just About As Fancy Gym, boy, was I surprised. During our workouts, I found myself telling my trainer about how I used to be so strong and so fit while feeling like I am the fattest person in the joint now. Luckily, my trainer has dealt with my type before. She's very supportive and patient, and when I indignantly wondered aloud how someone could exercise everyday, like I do, and still feel out of shape, she suggested I kick my current exercise routine up a notch. Nothing major, just a few adjustments to what I already do and enjoy.

This woman knows what she's talking about.

One thing she has suggested is for me to do intervals when I run outside. That is to say, jog two or three blocks, then sprint one block, jog two or three more blocks, sprint one block, etc. The first time I did it, I thought I might die, but now, I don't know why I spent all those years jogging at one boring pace. I have fallen into the habit of walking the second half of my morning jog, but now during the second half, I walk two or three blocks and then jog one, walk two or three blocks and jog one. You get the picture. That gives me a nice cool down but keeps my heart rate a little higher. I've been doing these interval jogs for about a two weeks now, and I love them. I have more energy afterward, and the endorphin rush is much more intense. Given that I am an endorphin addict, I've become a big fan.

On top of all that, my personal trainer also managed to sell me more sessions once my introductory three were done with a commitment for me to buy even more in the future. Oh, she is brilliant, that trainer of mine. Brilliant.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Remember that catchy but really kind of hideous song written by Prince under the alias "Christopher" and made famous by the Bangles? In one line of that tune, Susannah Hoffs croons that Sunday is her "fun day." I guess as Christopher, Prince was hurting for a rhyme on that one.

Well, bad rhymes from Prince aside, Sunday truly is quite the glorious day. I was supposed to go to a barbecue this afternoon, but the host canceled it yesterday because he feared the weather was going to be bad. A canceled party always is a disappointment, but on what turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day, I have been able to get a lot done. I slept for nine yummy hours before leaving my bed at 10:00 this morning and got all of my housework (or is it apartment work when you're an urban dweller?) out of the way early while Nick Lowe tumbled out of my stereo. Then, after finishing my little newspaper column and watching That Thing You Do! on cable for about the 600th time (I adore that movie), I went for a five-mile run/walk and am still flying on the endorphin rush.

As productive and relaxed as I have been all day, I do need to be at least a little bit social. So in about half an hour, I'm taking off for the Mission to see a friend's band perform. And I suppose my own "Manic Monday" arrives tomorrow. Prince.. er, Christopher... would be proud, I'm sure.

[For the record, the Bangles were an exponentially better band before "Manic Monday" and all their other hit records came out and made them stars. Just so you know.]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No, I'm Not 25 Anymore

So there's good news and bad news to report from my weekend.

The good news is that San Francisco continues to offer countless opportunities for fun. After work on Friday, I met my friend Kurt at a Union Square wine bar in advance of the Paula West show at the Rrazz Room. A cocktail for me and two glasses of wine and a snack for him later, we were on our way to watch Ms. West perform. She was, as always, amazing; singing standard jazz tunes alongside (good) cabaret arrangements of 60's folk/pop songs such as "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "For No One."

So good.

After Paula, I bid Kurt goodbye and went to the Big Umbrella art studio where another friend, Missy, has become an artist in residence. I took in the art and ran into a guy I recognized from that live Dating Game show I went to back in January. He had been the one and only clever "bachelor" in that game (the others were very scary), and I told him so as we started chatting. Somehow I ended up going to my new favorite bar, Madrone, with said Bachelor and his group of friends. I didn't stay at Madrone long, though. I just passed enough time to have a Chimay and a spin on the dance floor. After that, I was off to put myself to bed.

Now here's the bad news. Even though I was home by 12:30 a.m., the three strong cocktails, two cups of cheap art studio wine and one Chimay I'd imbibed over the course of Friday evening did a complete and total number on me. Back in the day I could have consumed that much alcohol over six hours without issue, but... No, I'm not 25 anymore.

So I spent most of Saturday hungover.

Now, that didn't stop me from meeting Maya and Andrey at the Mint for a little Saturday afternoon karaoke, but I was somewhat the worse for wear. I did manage to take to the stage and belt out "Somewhere Only We Know" and "Kids In America," anyway, though. However, it was an early evening for me. I was home by 8 p.m. and in bed and asleep by 11. On a Saturday night. The twentysomething partier in me was a little horrified, but the nearly 40-year old adult in me was quite content. Especially after that Friday night.

The other bit of bad news this weekend is that I was supposed to sing at an open mic this afternoon, but my guitarist came down with a sinus infection this morning and is in no shape to play. Given that I play no instruments myself and don't have good enough pitch to sing five songs a capella, I stayed home and waded through receipts and did preparation for my upcoming appointment with my tax guy instead. But that's fun, too, right?

I'm making up for the lost open mic by meeting Carla for a Sunday night cocktail in about an hour, but that's not quite the same as singing. My guitarist and I have even worked out some "new" material. Well, it will be coming to an open mic near you (if you're in San Francisco) soon. Soon, my friends.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

Today, a former co-worker of mine wrote one of the nicest things anyone has said about me in a long time on my Facebook "wall." Now, this story gets a tad weird in that a few hours later, the flattering comments disappeared, and he was no longer my Facebook "friend." I was confused until I noticed he was no longer connected to any of the friends we had in common, including his wife. So I'm guessing he deactivated his profile.

Regardless, thanks to the beauty of email notifications from social networking websites, I egotistically can share with you of a portion what he wrote. This would make a little more sense if you knew what I do for a living, but... oh, well. This is blog is a specific-job-and-career free zone. Anyway, on to the incredible niceness:

"I've worked 23 years in [this business].... and I think I am a fair judge of talent. You've got it kid. You're smooth, relaxed, and bright. Just remember: Never forget that you were given a great gift. It's a powerful responsibility. Don't take it for granted. You have the opportunity to do some great things. Step out. Be different. Find your voice. This gift isn't free. You are fortunate. This ain't no party. You have to challenge yourself to find a way to inspire. Use your intellect. Honor your gift."

I must say, this note made me feel really, really good. At a time when we're all at least a little afraid of losing our jobs due to the economy (don't deny it; you know you're scared, too), it was lovely to be told that someone admires my talent and ability and wants me to run with it. Thanks, Kevin!!!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Economic Stimulus

I've developed a very bad habit.

For the second year in a row, I've gone to Bloomingdale's to procure a birthday present for my sister Fabulous Patti, and I've ended up buying myself a new dress instead. Not in addition to a gift for FP, instead of one. Last year it was a lavender Rebecca Taylor number I wore both on FP's birthday and to my own birthday celebration in December, and this time, I picked up the Nanette Lepore frock you see pictured here (that is not me modeling it).

Now, I did get Fabulous Patti a gift a couple of days later, and I, once again, was able to wear my new outfit to her birthday dinner and champagne and cupcake party on Saturday. However, I can't exactly afford to buy anything right now. My move last fall kind of knocked the financial wind out of me, and I haven't really recovered yet. If moving costs and buying a bunch of new furniture in September wasn't enough, I seem to find myself constantly facing large expenditures these days, like old dental fillings that need to be replaced and the like. (I have dental insurance, but it's a crappy plan that only covers cleanings, exams and x-rays. Generally, that hasn't been a problem since I take excellent care of my teeth... until my old fillings wore out.)

Anyway, I always have found that in the world of finances, where there is a will, there is a way. I don't believe in carrying credit card debt; so I'm sure I'll find a way to pay for this lovely little gown in full when the bill arrives. Perhaps my savings account can lend a helping hand. Or the income tax refund I anticipate receiving whenever I get around to filing my taxes. The good news is that Bloomingdale's was having a promotion, and I got $75 off my purchase! Of course, these little bits of black and red patterned fabric still cost more money than I have, but the dress is so cute and looks really good on me. Seriously. And besides, we're all supposed be spending money these days, right?

Right. Just call it the Sassy Economic Stimulus Plan.