Friday, January 29, 2010

Misplaced Jealousy

Envy is one of the seven deadly sins, correct? And we all know what the green-eyed monster did to Othello and poor Desdemona! (Side note: Y'know how in "Othello" everyone keeps referring to him as "the Moor?" Well, someday I'm gonna direct a production that includes a rousing rendition of "Summer Nights" at the opening of the play, when Othi and Desi first show up, having just married. "Tell me, Moor, tell me, Moor was it love at first sight..." I know! Genius, right?)
Apparently there's a difference between envy and jealousy, which I never really understood. I guess envy is when someone has something you want, and jealousy is directed more toward a person in general.
Or something like that.
Anyway, I was thinking about jealousy this morning, for reasons still unknown. See, I've been known to be a wee bit insecure at certain times in my life. Which is kinda like saying the Grand Canyon is somewhat large. The fact is, up until fairly recently, I was a walking, talking bundle of exposed nerve endings. A powder keg of neuroses, ready to go off at the slightest hint of criticism. And I DID go off. Frequently.
I still have a boatload of insecurities, but whether through age, therapy, or the more-likely combination of both, I have calmed down considerably. I am much more able to count my blessings, and to be truly grateful for them.

Back in my 20's, truly the age of UNreason, I was so insanely jealous of so many people, and truly begrudged them their good fortune. It only got worse, of course, when I moved to L.A. and was a starving artist, trying desperately to make the world recognize my true genius. Oh how I hated the other women my age (and younger) who, IMHO, had only a smidgen of the talent I had, but were working because they looked better naked/slept with a producer/were the sister of the director. It was high school all over again: the popular girls got all the jobs and I was stuck in drama club, taking myself way too seriously as usual.
I remember reading an interview with Jennifer Aniston, who was about 27 or 28 at the time (as was I). During the interview, a car alarm went off, and kept going and going and going. Finally she said "OK, no one cares! Get a Lojack and be done with it!" And I thought, "Well, Miss Sitcom/budding movie star, not everyone gets paid $1 million per episode of a hit TV show, is engaged to the biggest movie star in the world (at the time), and some of us can barely afford gas, let alone a Lojack system!!!!!
I was SOOOOO MAD!!!!! At EVERYONE! I was consumed by jealousy. And the sad thing was, it wasn't even about wanting to work as an actress, it was to prove myself. To all the people I felt had "wronged" me in my life, whether they were acting teachers who didn't recognize my "brilliance," or kids in high school who didn't invite me to the cool parties, whatever. There was always some giant, looming, shadowy figure in my head who kept up a constant stream of negative chatter. I wanted those people to be jealous of ME. To turn on their TVs or go to the local megaplex and say "Holy cow! Is that ALYSSA?!?!?! Wow! She's a STAR!!!!!"

When I think about it now, it's pretty sad and pathetic. Especially since the people I was always so jealous of had problems of their own. Seriously, would I exchange my life for Jennifer Aniston's? Hell no! Don't get me wrong, she actually seems like a nice woman and I wish her well, but I don't want her life. I truly felt for her when the whole Brangelina thing went down. (I was Team Aniston all the way, 'cause Angelina, who should be lauded for her humanitarian work, does have a history of taking up with men who are already in relationships. Just my 2 cents.) Sure, maybe she makes out with Gerard Butler from time to time, but I get to mack on my hubby ALL the time, and he's hot!!!! I also don't have photographers following me, magazines making up stories about me, or writers in the New York Times calling me fat.
The sad fact is, I spent so much time and energy being jealous of people who, well, didn't really have such great lives. Whether famous or not, they all had some serious issues, and they're all HUMAN. When people say jealousy is a waste of time, I FINALLY get it!
When we look at someone, be it a celebrity, a reality star, or a neighbor, and we wish we had their lives, we usually don't really know what is truly going on in those lives, right? I may be jealous of my friend who has a nanny and a housekeeper, but she also has tons of stress at work that I don't have to deal with.
The fact is, I'm very grateful for the life I have, and quite proud of myself. As a mother, a teacher, a wife, and, most of all, as a person.
8 years ago I couldn't have even imagined feeling the way I do today. And that really is something to be thankful for!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Well, This is Depressing!

So it turns out that my anti-depressants may be responsible for nearly 20 of the 30 pounds I've put on in the past 4 1/2 years.
I put on 12 pounds when we moved from L.A to the Bay Area. That weight held pretty steady until I went on the pills, at which point I put on another 18 pounds. And they. Have. Not. Budged.
In a way, it's kind of a relief. I've been doing everything "right" in terms of exercise and diet, and yet the weight keeps creeping up. I even had my thyroid tested, and it's normal.
But I'm also pi**ed off, because, apparently, the drug companies that make the pills have downplayed the weight-gain side effects, drastically under-reporting the number of people who experience significant weight gain while on anti-depressants because, of course, it would DISSUADE PEOPLE FROM SPENDING MONEY ON THEM!!!!! Interestingly enough, the rise in obesity figures coincides with the rise in prescriptions for anti-depressants. Coincidence? I don't think so!
Don't get me wrong, I think anti-depressants are generally a good thing. I'm not gonna go all Tom Cruise here and tell people living with depression to take their vitamins and snap out of it. But maybe we need to re-evaluate how they are prescribed, and to whom, and for how long. We are so quick to write a prescription and leave it at that, without much follow-up.
The other thing that gets me really steamed is that we are so quick to judge overweight and obese people as lazy, slothful, dirty, etc., and yet it may not even be their fault!!!! Judging ANYONE based on their appearance is heinous, but it is doubly so when they cannot help it! And now there are some in the psychiatric world who want to qualify obesity as a psychiatric condition, which will create even more of a catch-22. 'Cause how many obese patients will now be put on even higher doses of the very thing that may be responsible for making them obese in the first place?
I'm due for a check-up at my doctor's. I'm going to speak to him about this. I'm also very lucky in that he is a big proponent of NOT staying on anti-depressants forever, of talk therapy, and of other ways of dealing with depression. Particularly mild-to-moderate. He worries that we don't know what kind of effect these medications may have on the liver and endocrinal (sp?) system.
I have been on them for 2 years now. My life, and my attitude, has changed dramatically, mainly because of therapy. See, I've always seen anti-depressants, for me anyway, as akin to a pain reliever: if someone breaks their leg, you give them pain pills and, when they're ready, start them on physical therapy. You don't just hand 'em a bottle of extra-strength Tylenol and send them on their way! The pain pills are there to help with the rehabilitation, right? You take them so that you can buckle down and do the painful work that needs to be done.
So maybe it's time for me to wean off of them. To see how I do without them. Not just because of the weight, although it would be GREAT if the weight came off, but because I just think it's time. I was pondering it before I read about the side effects, and this seems like a sign.
And, seriously, drug companies need to GET REAL about weight gain being a side effect of prescription drugs! How many years have we been told that birth control pills don't cause weight gain, and yet how many women have experienced weight gain while on birth control?!?!? And then we blame ourselves!!!! That just SUCKS, man!
Personally, I'd like to see a shift in our perspective on health, from popping pills to changing our lives. It's so sad to see people, especially senior, on 12 different medications. I'd like to see us focus more on preventative medicine. I think we're starting to do that, but we have a looong way to go.
(And let me just give a shout-out to Fred, a senior Pilates client who, the other day, was showing off all the yoga poses he can do now! GO FRED!!!!!)
OK, stepping off my soap box now. I'm gonna go get ready to sub a Pilates mat class at Gold's gym. (Where many of the clients are seniors!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oh. My. G-D!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah. Did the Fit Test for Insanity the other day, and my first *official* workout last night. Or, I should say, about 3/4 of the workout. That stuff is HARD!!!!!!
Of course, I kinda knew that when I ordered it. And during the months I pondered ordering it. And I must admit, I had a few moments of "Ican'tdothiswhatwasIthinkingIcanstillsenditbackandgetmymoneyback." But then I reminded myself that: a) this was THE FIRST TIME I had done the workout and, b) THIS is exactly what I signed on for!!!!!!! So what if I can't do it perfectly (or, at all) right now! The point is to get stronger so that EVENTUALLY I will be able to finish. Even some of the guys on the DVD were having trouble, so why should I have to be perfect the first time out?
I also realized that that was the old me talking. The perfectionist, the girl afraid to make a mistake. And I'm not that person anymore. Heaven knows I make PLENTY of mistakes, lol!
It also didn't help that the day before I taught 4 hours of Pilates! That's gonna put a crimp in the ol' workout!
The upside was that I've slept REALLY well the past two nights. Gee, wonder why?
Anyway, I'm gonna keep on, keep on, keep on keep on, dancin' all through the night. Meaning, I'm going to do the Insanity workouts as often as I can, without overdoing it.
Oh, and if you're like me and you love energy bars but don't want too much sugar, there's a company called Greens+ that makes a YUMMY bar! It's raw, made with stuff like dates and almond butter, and comes in 3 for 4 flavors (I like the chocolate and the yogurt-covered ones). It also has a lot of protein, good fats, and is, I believe, gluten-free. They haven't paid me for this. I found some at Trader Joe's, and they carry them at Whole Foods, and they are YUMMY!
Anyway, gotta go teach another class. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Am I "Insane"?!?!?!

OK, if you've read any other of my postings, you already know the answer. But I'm actually asking myself the question based on a new Beachbody workout program called "Insanity." I broke down and bought it (after selling off some of my other BB programs) because I need to up my cardio. And as much as I love Spinning (and, oh, how I do!!!!!), I want to add some weight-bearing exercise. I am, after all, 40, and If I were to listen to all those calcium supplement ads, why, the calcium is just leaking from my body like sand through an hourglass! My poor old bones are starting to resemble Swiss cheese!
I also want to feel like an athlete. I've always told myself that I'm just not very athletic, I'm too clumsy, too uncoordinated, etc. And while that may be true for things like downhill skiing or any organized sport involving a ball, I have been working out, doing yoga and Pilates for a couple of decades now.
I've also realized that if I wanna get some of this weight off, it's cardio that's gonna do it for me. When we lived in L.A., our house was at the bottom of a hill. Almost every day, I would go for walks around our neighborhood and get my heart pumping. These days we live on flat terrain, which is not nearly as much fun.
Finally, I was chatting with a client yesterday during class. She is in her 60's, and loves doing Pilates. We talked about how much stronger we are, and it got me thinking; I was NEVER this strong when I relied solely on weight training. I couldn't carry pieces of furniture up 3 flights of stairs like I did 2 days ago. (WG has a big girl bed, finally! It's actually a Click-Clack from Ikea; folds into a couch, but much more comfy than a futon.) I couldn't do pushups. I still can't do unassisted pull-ups, but I'm getting better. I can lift my kids, who are not exactly tiny, without throwing my back out.

These days it seems that everyone is all about the heavy weights/low reps/low cardio to lose weight. And if it works for ya, go for it! (Although I worry about the low cardio part. The heart, after all, is a muscle, and needs work, too!) But since I'm FINALLY learning to listen to my body and trust my instincts, I'm gonna continue with lots of cardio, light weights, yoga, and Pilates.
Which means NOT following the Insanity program exactly as it's laid out. The idea is to do the program 6 days a week for 60 days for "Insane!" results. But I'm not looking for a quick fix. And I still need to be able to teach my own classes. I even went to the Beachbody website for advice. No one has responded. So I'm gonna be my own expert.

For years I have been looking at these young, nubile celebrity trainers as my guides. The problem is, who knows how their programs will affect them as they age? Instead, I'm looking towards those who are older than I am. It's no coincidence that many yoga and Pilates experts and teachers are in their 50's and beyond. Joseph Pilates himself died not from frailty or illness, but from smoke inhalation! (OK, no one said he was a role model for good judgement: his studio caught fire and he kept running back in to save his equipment.)
Tony Horton, the creator of P90X, says that the reason he can continue to work out as hard as he does at the age of 51 is because he regularly does yoga. Teachers of the Lotte Burke and Bar Methods teach well into their 60's and beyond.
So, for me, FINALLY, it is no longer about the latest trend, the "hot" celebrity workout, the pants I wore pre-pregnancies, or the miracle cure, or even what worked for that lady over there. It's about taking care of myself, darn it! It's about staying healthy and being here for my kids. Having a full, enjoyable, hopefully long life with Hubby and my family.

Oh, and keeping all my teeth. REALLY gotta cut down on the sugar!

I also realize that I want to inspire my clients to do the same. I'm NOT the go-to gal when it comes to weight loss advice. I have been self-conscious about that, especially when a client tells me they want to lose weight. But I'm hoping to be the go-to gal for healthy living and a healthy outlook. To be the one to show people that being healthy isn't about physical appearance.

I'm subbing a couple of classes this week for a master Pilates trainer at Equinox. I always get nervous about subbing for her, because she is AMAZING. She's been teaching for 30 years. She knows her stuff, and I cannot possibly compare with her. BUT, I have my own strengths, and I will call on those for the classes I sub. Like anything else, it comes down to self-confidence.

And I think I'm finally gettin' me some o' dat!

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year, New Stuff

So much has been happening over the last few days, and it is very exciting!
I have come to accept that WG is going through a particularly difficult phase. We can't magically make it stop, we can't fix it, we can only struggle through it, together. And as hard as it is on me and Hubby, it is 1,000 times more difficult for her. And she's just a wee girl! When those big, fat tears start rolling down her sweet face, it's all I can do to not break down and cry myself.
But, like everything, this, too, shall pass.

I went to a voiceover class yesterday, taught by a woman who has been in the industry for 30 years, owns her own studio, and wrote THE BOOK on the industry. And it was a 180 degree difference from the other VO class I took. I left that one feeling discouraged and wanting to get away as fast as possible. (Especially when they called me up and said "You have so much potential! Come to Los Angeles to take our $3,000, 2-week course!" I left yesterday's class feeling excited, happy, and eager to learn. (And the core curriculum is about $2500 LESS!) So I'm gonna go for it! They also have improv workouts every Sunday, open to anyone. You go, pay $10, and do improvisation for 3 hours. I used to do a lot of improv, and was thinking about getting back into it. Now I can, for $10!!!!! Woo-hoo! (It also gives me something to focus on other than my weight.)

I've also started getting rid of more STUFF. Giving books to the library, clothes to various organizations (like the jeans I haven't worn since early '03!), DVDs to the library, Amazon trade-in (which is AWESOME!), e-bay, craigslist, etc. I'm not using them, and if someone else can, then they should have them. Mind you, it's going to be a looooooong process...I haven't even started on the stuff in our storage space, lol! But, like they say, every journey begins with a single step.
Or something like that.

I've been off of work since Thursday. I also haven't worked out. I've been taking naps. Feeling a tad under the weather, so just taking it easy. And, as much as I enjoy working out, I must say that I've enjoyed this respite, as well. 'Cause naps RULE! And I'll get back to my workouts once I'm feeling up to snuff.

Trying to focus more on spiritual things. Like having compassion and respect for others. Worrying less about the size of my tummy and more about the people around me.
"Trying" being the operative word here.

And, finally, the new season of "Doctor Who" will be on BBC America, rather than SyFy. Which means we don't have to wait until 6 months after it airs in the U.K. We'll pretty much get it at the same time!!!! New year, new series, new actor playing The Doctor. Should be fun, and I can't wait!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Back in 1991, when I was a newly-minted college graduate (I know, I'm old, shut up), I went to the U.K for the summer to rehearse and perform a show at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. It's a 3-week long arts festival, held every August, and it's AWESOME!!!! If you've never been, book your tickets now. I saw some of the best stuff EVER during the week I spent there, including Alan Rickman in a play called "Tango at the End of Winter," about a retired Shakespearean actor who goes nuts, thinking he's the characters he'd played onstage. Great, great great!
Anyway, we rehearsed the show in Oxford, in a studio overlooking beautiful farmland, with an audience of sheep. And we took buses to Stratford and London to see lots of shows, one of which was "Richard III" at the National Theatre, starring Ian McKellen (who later made a film of it, kinda based on the stage production. Except the stage production didn't have a naked Robert Downy Jr. in it, unfortunately.) If you don't know the play (or have blocked it out, thanks to the INCREDIBLY BORING way it's taught in high school), it ends with Dicky's death on the battlefield, after he's killed his way to the throne. Many of the people he's killed (including his first wife) come back to haunt him, telling him to "Despair and die!" In this production, every time someone said that, there was a creepy, echoing whisper saying "Despair!" It was very cool!
But the reason I bring it up is because, well, every once in a while, particularly during this time of the month (oh yes, it's THAT time of the month!), I hear that echo in my head. This time it's because of work woes. See, when I quit acting, I hoped I'd left some of my work-related insecurities behind. But, alas, no. They're still there.
See, I've lost 9 clients. NINE!!!!!! My entire Monday night class, who are all friends, have decided not to come back. My former-Israeli military dude dropped out very abruptly. My favorite, been-with-me-since-my-first-ever-class has joined a DIFFERENT class (that one REALLY hurts!), my favorite mom client is out, and one of my staffers has declined to re-enlist. I DO have 2 brand-new clients. whom I haven't met yet, and I'm hoping for a third. I've also noticed that other former clients have joined other classes. And my numbers in mat class have been way down.
All of which, of course, makes me wonder: Do I just SUCK?!?!?! Is it me? Are my Monday night ladies just being polite when they say the class is too expensive? (A month of reformer classes cost $100, in addition to the gym fees, so it ain't cheap.)
I try to tell myself that there are certainly other factors; the economy and many New Year's resolutions to save money, the fact that some clients moved from my Friday class to a Saturday class, which might be easier on their schedule, and the holidays. (I haven't had my mat class in the new year yet, so we'll see how my numbers are tonight.)
But my basic insecurities, along with my hormones, are not buying any of it. They're telling me that, yes, I suck. I'm kidding myself. Who wants to take a fitness class with a fat instructor? Why SHOULD they take my class, when all the other teachers are SO MUCH better than I am? And waaaaaay thinner!
Add to that the fact that Hubby isn't teaching this semester (he taught playwrighting to kids last fall), and I'm seriously worried about our financial situation. I keep having these nightmare visions of having to sell our townhouse and move in with my in-laws, who live in a different school district, which will refuse to pay for our kids' services and they'll end up in bad classrooms, not getting the help they need, and I'll get so mad that I'll trash the superintendent's office with Hubby's baseball bat and go to prison, forcing my kids to grow up without a mother!!!!! They'll have to visit me in Folsom prison on alternate Sundays, growing up ashamed of me, only we won't have any money for therapy, and they'll turn to a life of crime!!!!!! All because I COULDN'T HOLD ON TO MY PILATES CLIENTS!
(And orange is SO not my color!)

That's a whole lotta guilt, even for me!

But I feel better, having written it down. 'Cause, seeing it, it looks kinda silly. I still have 4 classes a week. I still sub a lot. I'm still working on getting my yoga certification. And I start my voiceover classes this Sunday. We have money in our savings account. Hubby is looking for work as an EMT.
We'll be OK. We always have been.
And I WILL lose this damn weight!!!! Dammit!!!!
OK. I'm done. Good. I'm good. I'm gonna go curl up in bed and read about demon slayers.

Have a good day!