Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh, the Pain!!!!

It seems that for as long as I can remember I've had stomach issues. I've been a worrier princess since I was about 5, and it goes straight to my stomach. When I was in 5th grade, I went to the hospital and had to have a battery of tests done to see if there was anything seriously wrong, because I'd missed almost half the school year with stomachaches.
I had to drink barium. YUCK! I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, until I met another little girl my age who had to have a barium enema.
Yeah, perspective.
Anyway, they didn't find anything wrong, and I think it could be attributed to stress.
I was a neurotic little kid.
These days, though, it's different. I'm certainly less neurotic than I used to be, and I don't have panic attacks anymore, but I'm still an anxious person. But I'm also getting acid reflux, which is pretty new. It started a couple of months ago, and was a sign of PMS. But now it's pretty much constant.
I'm also getting stomach aches that feel like the lining of my stomach is being eaten away by paint thinner.
I don't think that's a good sign.
Which means a trip to the doctor.
Which means a co-payment.
And getting on the scale.
None of which I want to deal with.
I know I need to lose some weight (which will most likely help with the reflux), and I don't want to get weighed. Or be told what I already know. Or hear about the Paleo diet again. Or spend 40 bucks!!!!
So I guess I'll change my diet (again!), and have some whine with my food. See if that helps. (I don't know if whining and complaining are useful tools against acid reflux, but who knows?)
So I guess we could call this post "Bellyaching."(Get it? Huh? Huh? Oh c'mon, that's funny!)
Alright. I'm gonna go drink some water, have a Pepcid, and go to bed.
Thanks for listening, er, reading!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's THAT Time of Year!

Time to think about what we are thankful for. Ideally, we'd do this every day (yes, something else to put on the To Do list, but at least this is kinda fun and makes you fell better.)
So, here we go:

First of all, my family. Always and forever, and always first and foremost.

Maturity. Sort of. I turned 40 this year, and while I still have the mentality of a 12 year-old boy, I do have a much better perspective on things than I did when I was in my 20's and even my 30's. I wouldn't be 25 again for all the money in the world, all the tea in China, or any other cliche. Even if I did have a rockin' bod (which I couldn't see at the time, so, really, what was the point?). Which makes me think, that's how it's supposed to be, right? We make stupid mistakes in our youth, hopefully learn from them, and get smarter as we age. The wrinkles and cellulite seem a small price to pay for the wisdom and peace we gain as we get older, if we allow ourselves to acknowledge and accept it. Granted, we live in a society that despises age, so this can be difficult. (Tangent: does "anti-aging" mean "pro-death?" 'Cause the only way NOT to age is to shuffle off one's mortal coil. Should we be wary of all those face creams?)
And this is coming from someone who cannot stop lamenting the 30 pounds gained in the past 4 years. Or the fact that THEY WON'T GO AWAY!!!!!

Dogs and cats. Especially the ones we have/had. They really do make life better. I've never had a pet iguana or bird, fish, skunk, etc., but I would imagine they add to the quality of life, as well. They have their own distinct personalities, and it's so nice to just hang out with them. When I come home from work, the dog is the only one who rushes to the door to greet me. (Yesterday I gave her a bath; I filled the tub and called her upstairs. When she came up, she took one look at the tub and turned right back around again. I had to lift her up to put her in, and she tried to escape at first, but then she stoically accepted her fate. It's things like this that make the day fun. Plus, she's very protective of/patient with the kids. She is the PERFECT dog for our family, and we are blessed to have her with us.)
And my neighbors cat cracks me up. And sometimes he even lets me pet him!

Therapy. Sometimes it just helps to have someone, a trained professional, to tell you that you're not crazy.

My bloggong buddies. You guys. I feel like we've known each other for years, even though we've never met in person. I don't have many friends close by, and it's so wonderful to know that I can write down my thoughts and you will understand the vague, odd patterings of what's left of my brain. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There's lots more, but I've gotta go give my kids their baths. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Brain, Even Mine, is a Powerful Thing

I've been reading up on nutrition lately. Books such as
"The End of Overeating," "Eat to Live," "The Gorgeously Green Diet," and "The Appetite Awareness Workbook." All useful and VERY interesting.
I've been thinking, again, about whether or not to become a vegetarian. And I've decided, for the time being, to be flexitarian. To focus on getting plenty of fruits and veggies, as well as veggie sources of protein, and cutting down on the flesh.
Tonight I made pizza for dinner. Veggie for me, plain for the kids, and "supreme" for Hubby. I ate a bit of the "supreme," and now I'm REALLY wishing I hadn't!
My tummy has been in an uproar for the past 3 1/2 hours (which was a whole bunch 0' fun while I was teaching 2 Pilates classes, let me tell ya!), and I think it's because of the supreme pizza. I could be wrong. It could be that I simply ate too much. Which wouldn't be anything new. OR, it could be GUILT from eating that supreme pizza! I knew I "shouldn't," but I did anyway. And now I'm paying for it.
So. Jewish guilt, a tricky tummy, or malicious meat?
Unless it's something more sinister, like a virus.
Wow. Way to be an alarmist, Alyssa!

See, THIS is why meditation would be so good for me, if I could just remember to actually DO it! My brain is able to conjure up the most far-fetched scenarios. And, y'know, your body doesn't know the difference between reality and fantasy. So I could IMAGINE I'm on a beach in Hawaii, and my body would relax and chill. Without the plane trip and $400 round-trip ticket. I could make my crazy, over-active imagination work FOR me instead of against.
Wow! What a concept!!!!!!
OK. I'm off to Hawaii. Talk to ya soon!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Snark Time: Pet Peeves

I've said it before, I'll say it again: While I LOVE the holidays, I REALLYREALLYREALLYREALLYREALLY DESPISE all the "expert advice" that shows up this time of year regarding "Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain!" To be followed, after the last gift has been unwrapped and the last piece of confetti vacuumed up, by the inevitable "10 Tips for Losing Those Holiday Pounds!"
GAAAAAHHHHH!!!! Shut the hell up!!!!!! If your tips are so all-fired terrific, why do you have to keep reiterating THE SAME ONES, YEAR AFTER YEAR?!?!?!
I actually saw one this year, from some clean eating folks, about how to create a "clean" Thanksgiving meal for only 500 calories!
OK, fine. You wanna do that, more power to ya. Mazel-tov, G-d bless. I understand that eating clean is a way of life, is quite healthy, and gives you lots of energy. In fact, I'm trying to clean up my own diet, so I feel less sluggish.
But, see, I happen to LOVE stuffing, and I only eat one time per year. OK, with leftovers, more like 12, but you know what I mean. And if I were to, say, SKIP the stuffing and serve my extended family plain brussels sprouts with naked baked sweet potatoes? I wouldn't survive to see who wins the football game. Not that I care about the game (see earlier post regarding football). But I'm kinda fond of breathing.

Now let's move on to another topic: PEOPLE WHO COME TO THE GYM WHILE SICK. Look, I understand we live in a no-pain-no-gain, suck-it-up,I'll-sleep-when-I'm-dead type of society, and that perhaps your trainer/lifecoach/boss/mom has instilled in you to keep going, no matter what. Or maybe you just watch "The Biggest Loser" and imagine Jillian screaming insults at you if you even consider staying home when you have the sniffles. So off you go, getting in your workout.
As a fitness professional, I am BEGGING you; stay home! Even if it's just the sniffles, or a cold, or you feel "something coming on." OK, ESPECIALLY if you fell "something coming on," because guess what? NOW is when you are most contagious! Now is the time that you will spread all your icky little germs all over the place, even if you wipe down the equipment, sanitize everything you touch within an inch of its life, and pretty much take every precaution short of wearing a haz-mat suit. You. Will. Spread.Your.Virus. And chances are you'll probably make yourself feel worse. Stay home!!!!!
You wanna work out while you're sick? Buy a DVD. I'm not saying this to be flip. I'm saying this because I'm selfish. I and all the other employees of the gym do not want your cold. We definitely don't want your flu. Most of us are paid by the hour. We don't work, we don't get paid. I CANNOT afford to miss a week (or more) of work because you felt you couldn't miss a workout.
STAY HOME!!!!!!!

Finally, my %^$#@*&-ing Dell laptop!!!!! The first battery died within a year. So I bought another one (which I'm STILL paying for!), and it died within a year. I cannot keep a wireless connection for more than 20 minutes. I get "reconnect" signals literally every 3 seconds. But it doesn't reconnect. I cannot get a hold of anyone at Dell to help me. I am seriously considering throwing my laptop out the window and reverting to smoke signals instead of email.
Or maybe I'll just get a fancy-schmancy new phone and forget the computer.

OK. Done grousing. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Bit of Trauma, but First...

On the birth of your beautiful baby girl!!!!!
(Seriously, she is gorgeous! Go check her out on The Great Fitness Experiment. I'll wait.
Cute, huh?)

OK, back to ME!
I also, as you know, have a couple of gorgeous kids. Unfortunately, right now, one of them , the female, is giving us a whole lotta trouble. Yes, fresh off of her month-long, no-sleep scream fest, she is now pulling hair, pinching, scratching, and trying to bite. Her parents, her teachers, her therapists, her fellow students, her bus driver, and even her poor brother, who, even though he is older and bigger, refuses to retaliate. (He is one of the truly sweetest boys in the history of the universe, in my unbiased opinion.)
We had a meeting at her school on Friday, and we have some theories. For one thing, she is at a new school for the 3rd time in 3 years, which wasn't supposed to happen. She was SUPPOSED to stay in preschool an extra year, but then the county decided she was too old and put her in kindergarten. She had a REALLY hard time adjusting to BOTH schools, and it took about 4 months of crying before she got used to the routine. Once she did get used to it, she loved it. But at the end of last year, the district which owned the county classroom she was in booted them out. She was supposed to stay in that class for AT LEAST 2-3 years, with the same teacher, but the district, which is NOTORIOUSLY TERRIBLE to special needs kids and their families (yes, Burlingame California, I'm talking to YOU!) basically told the county "Too bad, so sad, we need the room for our rich white kids who DON'T have special needs. Goodbye and good luck."
So she was transferred to a school in San Carlos, which is a lot closer. She's also in a "mobile classroom" (read: trailer) which is owned by the county, rather than the district, so it's a lot harder to kick them out. But, it is YET another new school, with another set of new teachers (who, BTW, are terrific!), and she is the youngest one in the class.
She also doesn't speak, which is a source of great frustration to her (and to us, especially when she's shrieking at 3 AM and we don't know why). So it's basically a perfect storm of events culminating in some really negative and difficult behaviors.
And they didn't start until VERY recently.
See, I've been so relieved to have kids who, while they have Autism, didn't have any of the self-destructive or acting out behaviors you often see. Until now. I'm REALLY hoping it's just a phase. She's been drawing blood on her teachers' arms, and that's not good! I also figure that, developmentally, she's about 2 years old, so maybe this is part of her terrible twos? Just another part of that perfect storm.
It's also completely unpredictable: one minute she is laughing and happy and literally the next she's got a fistfull of her brother's hair and is screaming. Her pediatrician can't find anything wrong. I'm starting to wonder if we need to find a doctor who is a bit more versed is ASD. The one we have is a great doc, he just doesn't have many special needs patients.
In the meantime, her therapist will spend 3 hours a week with her at school. I REALLY hope we can (forgive the pun) nip this behavior in the bud. 'Cause she's already REALLY strong, and she ain't gettin' any smaller or weaker as time goes on!
Oh, and she'll be wearing gloves at school.
Wish us luck!!!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Spirit is Willing, but the Schedule is Full

OK, see, one of my issues (among MANY) is that I have a childlike curiosity about things, coupled with a childlike attention span. Last week I went back to hot yoga after having missed almost 3 weeks of classes. And I started thinking "Y'know what'd be really cool? If I did the 30-day challenge!" That's where you do (at least) 1 Bikram class a day, every day, for a month. There are also 60 and 90-day challenges.
Then reality kicked in. I currently teach 7 hours of Pilates a week, and will be teaching more as the holidays come around and I start subbing. I also ride my bike to and from work on Fridays (30 minutes one way), when I don't have access to the car in the morning.
I have 2 kids with Autism. They have in-home therapy 3 days a week, as well as outside therapy 2 days a week. And I do it with them, as well as driving them to and fro.
WG is FINALLY sleeping through the night again, after a monh of waking up in the middle of the night and screaming for hours. (I'll be talking to her pediatrician about giving her melatonin; apparently it's very helpful with other Autistic kids who have sleeping issues.)
And now, WG and I have colds. She's been home for the past couple of days, and we've had to postpone her birthday party (she turns 6 tomorrow!!!!)
We're also dealing with things like semi-annual meetings at school, to gauge the progress of WG and LG, annual meetings with their social workers, and the fact that the school district is trying to take away WG's therapy. (Economics.)
So, not the best time to add on 7 1/2 hours a week of hot yoga, lol!
Lululemon in Palo Alto, which is not too terribly far, is offering FREE Crossfit classes every Sunday in November!!!!!! I've been wanting to try Crossfit, and now I can! For FREE! And I can still do yoga 2 or 3 times a week without killing myself.
I am a happy camper!

And here's hoping WG's cold is JUST a cold, and no the flu. 'Cause while Wall Streeters may have access to the flu vaccine, my kids still don't.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


About 10 or 11 years ago, when hubby and I were still living in L.A, in our last gasp of the 20-somethings and childless, we were both actors. We lived in a condo in Los Feliz, a really nice section of the city that has lots of cool shops and cafes, and sits at the base of the Hollywood Hills. Just beneath the Observatory, in fact. We often walked up to the Observatory, passing by the Greek Theater, Griffith Park, and one of many homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, on the way. (L.A. could be SUCH a cool city if it weren't for the entertainment industry!)
A few blockes from where we lived was a retaurant called "No Place Like Home." It was a favorite of ours; lots of outdoor (but covered) seating, good food, good coffee, friendly waitstaff, mellow customers, and they loved our dog.
One fine morning we were sitting at breakfast when a large group of early-20 somethings sat down near us. Turns out they were meeting before class.
Acting class.
There was a small studio down the street that offered acting classes.
Now, I should qualify this next bit by saying that New York and L.A have literally THOUSANDS of acting classes. Many, MANY unemployed actors will rent space and set up classes. Some are very good. The majority, unfortunately, are terrible. Even those which have decent reputations can be scams. (Cough-Beverly Hills Playhouse-cough. I mean, come on! $300 dollars a month to watch your peers get ripped a new one? Yes, observation is important. But not THAT important!)
So anyway, there sat these young, fresh-faced, exuberant hopefuls proclaiming, rather loudly (as well as numerously) that they were ACTORS.
'Cause that's rare in L.A.
Meeting actors.
Other than, y'know, your neighbors, your mailman, the busboy, bus driver, barista, the rabbi, etc. etc.
And they were going around the table talking about their "wins." I assume this was something they learned in class; talk about a good thing that happened during the past week, career-wise. Things like "I had an audition, and they only asked me to strip down to my panties, so I didn't have to be COMPLETELY naked! Yes, they videotaped it. Funny, I never knew there was a studio in that skanky area downtown!"
OK, no one actually said that, but you get the idea.
And now I must admit that Hubby and I sat there and rolled our eyes. Because A) Quite honestly, they were incredibly obnoxious and loud (seriously, other customers were leaving in a huff) and B) We'd been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, and whatever other cliches you can think of to say we'd lived through it, all of it, and survived. And were at the point where we knew it was not as sunny and wonderful and special as these kids were making it out to be.
Now, a part of me wanted to think "Oh, how sweet! They're not bitter and jaded yet!" But I just couldn't. (See above mention of their being obnoxious.) And I was also angry at this teacher, who was probably making a nice chunk of change off of these students and not giving them a lot in return. Hey, I could be wrong; maybe s/he was the most brillaint teacher EVER. Maybe they UNDERcharged theit students, while at the same time providing them with priceless knowledge of both art and industry. Maybe each one of those students is now living the most perfefect life thay could ever have imagined.
But I doubt it.
Because in L.A., particularly the entertainment industry, we all become whores. We do pretty much whatever it takes to make money, and, even more so, to get a toe in the industry. Even if it goes against everything we believe in and hold dear.
This morning I was thinking about commercials. Specifically campaign ads, it being election day. And I was wondering; if I were offered A LOT of money to do an ad for a program or candidate I violently disagreed with, would I do it? SHOULD I do it? Would the fact that the money would help my family override the damage I would do by endorsing something or someone that made me sick?
I'd like to think I'd refuse the job.
If I were still in L.A., however, I know that here would be A LOT of pressure on me to accept it. I'd be threatened with being let go by my agents, wth being blacklisted from the ad agency AND casting agents, and generally flayed alive by everyone I knew, possibly including my own union. (Don't get me wrong, I am very much pro-union, and proud to be a member of the ones I'm in, but they're far from perfect.)
Which brings me (finally!) to the point of this post: I think I'm learning to trust my own opinions and instincts. It started with food and IE. Last night, for example, I made dinner, went to the gym and taught 2 hours of Pilates, then came home and ate a bit more before bed. Which everyone knows is a BIG diet no-no! DO NOT, he experts say, eat before bed! Wait AT LEAST 2 hours (preferably 3) after eating to hit the hay!
But I didn't. I was sound asleep within the hour. And I woke up this morning, thought about it, and said "It's OK."
And it is!
But this goes way beyond food. It hearkens back to, you guessed it,childhood, when I learned, at a VERY young age, that my opinions and instincts were not to be trusted. There were others who knew what was best for me, and I was to obey at all times. Having my own ideas or, G-d forbid, ARGUING, was verboten.
And I took this message into adulthood. I absorbed it so completely I didn't even realize I felt this way. It was automatic. I became a chameleon, and not in a good way. I lost myself. I truly believed that in order to survive I had to shut up. Listen to the "experts." Do what "they" said. Never disagree (at least, not out loud), and never, EVER make a mistake!
This seems to be , unfortunately, very common in girls and women. And at the root of a lot of eating disorders. We feel we must be perfect; perfect grades, perfect hair, perfect bodies, perfect resumes, perfect personalities. For me, I became withdrawn and terrified, plagued by stomachaches and headaches. For others, it can be the opposite; overly aggressive (spurred on by self-doubt, which is TOTALLY different from aggressiveness spurred on by true confidence), unable to truly accept help or friendship from anyone, believing, as I did, that once someone truly gets to know them, they won't like them anymore.
We are surrounded by advice. There are "experts" everywhere. TV, magazines, billboards all spout advice. At work and school, we have meetings or "retreats" with these experts, all telling how we "should" run our company, be team players, spend our money, yada yada yada.
OK, yes, sometimes we need experts. Having a solid financial plan is a good thing. Food labels can be helpful.
We are rapidly approaching the pont where we no longer think for ourselves. Yes, Cocoa Crispies have a label saying they can boost immunity and, yes, it's pretty much a scam. But do we REALLY need the FDA to step in and TELL us it's a scam? Did people REALLY believe, when they bought Baby Einstein DVDs, that watching them would help their kid get into Harvard, hence the company now offering refunds on said DVDs?
Have we really lost all our common sense?
I don't know. Perhaps we have.
Perhaps it's time to step back, take a good hard look at the experts, and lisen to our own opinions again. Yes, "The Biggest Loser" contestants lose 30 pounds in a week. But is working out 6 hours a day really feasible for you? Do you think that losing so much weight, so quickly, is really a good idea? Is that Ab Rocker that they sell on TV at 3 AM REALLY the answer to your fitness prayers? And remember that old adage, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is? Well, that still holds. Maybe more so now than ever. (Just ask anyone who took out a sub-prime housing loan a few years ago!)
Every once in a while I think about those young actors and where they are now. They're in their mid-30's. Are they still performing? Do they look back and think how naive they were, or are they nostalgic? Do they still count their wins? Or are they too caught up in the things they "should" be doing and in the competitiveness of it all that they can't see the good stuff? Can they see past the careers and the money (or lack thereof) and the accolades (or lack thereof) and all the external stuff? My guess, if they're still in L.A, is no.
So, once again, I find myslef thanking G-d, Fate, Nature, and anyone else who helped me open my eyes and get the heck outta there. Because, while I know it's not just in L.A. that we find all this crap, being there cerainly didn't help my state of mind. And my kids WILL MOT grow up there.
Which is DEFINITELY a win!