Thursday, May 29, 2008

Midlife Crisis

I'm 41, so if this is midlife I'll make it to 82. Not bad. I'm definitely in a mini-crisis. Maybe it's the extra time on my hands lately, but I'm finding a need to reinvent myself yet again.

Is it the economy? Is it my newfound love of physical activity? Whatever the cause, I find myself on my bicycle a lot lately. If an errand can be done here on 'the island" I try to do it on my bike. I haven't found a way to pick up dry cleaning on my 18 speed, though.

I've been searching for a fresher look too. I'm too easily identified as "that teacher" or "that girl's mother," two roles I ADORE, but neither of which defines me. My latest attempts to mix it up include contact lenses and a new piercing. 13 ½ years as an astigmatic (thank you natural childbirth) have made those eyeglasses a signature of the JG look, but glasses get covered with sweat when running or hefting weights at the gym. A week into the contact lens experiment and I'm down to a mere 5 minute insertion time, much better than the 30 minutes it took me the first day. The piercing, on my ear, makes the third hole on the right, a small cz stud in the upper ear.

Now, what can I have tattooed?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Time Changes

While I love to come and work out West, the time change always kicks me hard. An early-to-bed-and-early to rise gal back East, I have a hard time staying awake past 7 PM Pacific time. My brain sounds reveille at 5 AM promptly (Eastern) and by the time I have to start work at 8:30 Pacific, I'm exhausted.

Sunday night, my first in a week in the Northwest, was particularly rough. I tossed and turned for hours, willing myself to fall asleep.Giving up at around 4 AM, I turned on the light. The blanket was halfway across the room and all four corners of the fitted sheet had recoiled toward the center. I had put up a good fight but lost.

Last night was much better. I took precautions. A heavy meal for dinner including pasta and meatballs, half of a half of a glass of red wine, and a warm vanilla steamer made for the perfect potion. I fell asleep reading, less than a paragraph into the next chapter of my trashy murder-mystery.

When I my eyes opened this morning I was afraid to look at the clock. I lay in a state of denial for about ten minutes before hazarding a glance. 4:57! I'd made it! Thank you, thank you, thank you, o blessed goddess of sleep. I am so grateful for the gift of sleep! A perfect landing overnight, leading up to a perfect morning of run, Kashi bar, blog and workshop.

So thankful for sleep, so proud of this achievement, it got me thinking. Grateful as I am for the gift of sleep, there is a gift I treasure even more: waking to another day.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

AARP & Me, A Nightmare in Two Acts


Curtain rises. Set is a typical doctor's office. Nurse X is seated, holding chart doing intake and vitals. JSG sits on paper-covered examination table.

X: Menopause or hysterectomy?

JSG: No thank you.

X: Which is it?

JSG: My mother?

X: Menopause or hysterectomy?

JSG: No.

X: Which is it, then?

JSG: None of the above. I'm 41.


NARRATOR: After a 5 1/2 mile run, bike ride to the Y, and an intense workout session including deadlifts, bench presses and pull-ups, JSG decides to bike over to Kohl's department store on the way home.

Curtain opens on JSG standing at the check-out register, purchasing some unmentionables for her 13-year old daughter. She is being served by a 50 something cashier, donned in a teenager's striped polo and khaki capris, but wearing the tell-tale necklace of reading specs.

SPECS: That will be $24.65. Oh, just a minute.

JSG: $24.65? Okay, here's my Kohl's card.

SPECS: Just a minute. Now, I'm not going to ask you your age, but I think that people like us, over 50, can join AARP, so that means we should get the discount too. That'll be $21.37.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Not Losing It

Some neighbors think we've lost our minds. Since school began in August, EJG and I have been waking at 5 AM to hit the streets before sunrise. We make our 5.5 mile round-trip to Starbucks on foot, burning 1,000 plus Kcal according to the counter on the heart rate monitor. When I'm home I supplement this insanity by visiting the Y at least 3 times a week for weight training, the occasional aerobics class, an alternative cardio experience on the stepmill, or the fierce personal training session with Judi the Intimidator. Months into this program, I'm really feeling great. I sense a strength and developing muscle tone beneath the soft outer layers. The blood pressure and resting heart rate have never been lower. I've changed departments in the stores, now able to choose fashions for the stretched-out and somewhat slovenly lieu of the tall and tubby. One problem remains. My weight hasn't moved.

Yup. Burning over 10,000 calories a week from working out hasn't moved the damned needle downward. Sometimes the instrument of evil has the nerve to read higher than the day before. We bought another scale, but it agreed with the first. I'd shoot the messenger but I'm not in favor of guns in the house. Besides, I don't want to clean up scale shrapnel from my bathroom floor. Instead I try to focus on the other benefits of my new fitness fanaticism. For the first time in my life, people actually think of me as a fitness freak! But the stock-steady scale looms large in my mind.

Yesterday I may have uncovered the perpetrator in this wrongdoing. I can blame it all on Centrum.

Nearly 15 years ago an endocrinologist confirmed what I had contended throughout my tubby teen years. I maintain the metabolism of a a three-legged tortoise. Prescriptions were administered to simulate the hormones my thyroid refused to produce, and I was sent on my way. I could hardly wait for the pounds to melt away. Alas, the great meltdown never happened.

Last week I sat through a routine blood-drawing so that my doctor can send along the renewal prescription for synthroid, my hypothyroidism maintenance medication. Usually this results in a phone message a few days later advising me to come pick up the paperwork. Instead this time the nurse left a message with an alarmed and urgent tone to come in as soon as possible to review my lab results.I debated calling back with some fighting words. Were they just looking for another copay, or was there a real concern? After all, an office visit means I write a check for $35. I decided to play along and scheduled the follow-up as advised.

Yesterday in the office we reviewed the numbers. Lipids. Check. Cholesterol. Check. Triglyceride. Check. LDL and HDL. Check check. TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). Uncheck. My thyroid, oh great regulator of all systems metabolic, was trending toward the toilet. It is progressively worsening in spite of progressively increasing prescriptions. We ruled out all the warning signs of goiters, thyroid cancer, or other catastrophic illnesses. Then we discussed my daily medication routine. I swallow everything in one fell swoop. In the morning, with a tall glass of whatever's available, down go the synthroid along with its buddies, the glucosamine, fish oil, and Centrum multi for women. Once a day is the most realisitic time frame for me to remember to do it at all.

"Eureka!" shouted the doctor. Well, not really, but it might have happened that way. It turns out that synthroid is some kind of medicinal reciprocal of calcium supplements. Combine the two and you end up with nothing. I checked the literature that has come taped to my synthroid bottle for the last dozen years, and I saw no mention. Basically, I've been negating the medication. Quit the Centrum and the meds can do their job. Give it a few weeks, we can run the bloodwork and verify. A functional metabolism in the era of Judy the Gymaholic? Maybe all this exercise will result in me losing something other than my mind, after all.