Saturday, July 27, 2013

Week 6: Fore-midable Opponents

This was the first week that I did not actively plan out my new activity a week in advance.  I decided to opt for a bit of spontaneity for a change.  After all, this whole thing is about stepping outside of my normal routine--and normal me is a planner.

Luckily, I was provided with the perfect opportunity for a new experience when my employer organized a golf outing for a few of our commercial loan customers and their corresponding lenders.

Now, I know what you're thinking.  

Why would anyone want to invite me to participate in such an event?  Although I do own a set of golf clubs which have been used exactly three times over the past three or four years, I am certainly not a lender and also not particularly impressive in the golf skills department (see Week 5 for further clarification on my utter lack of coordination whatsoever). 

Precisely why I was not invited to said event.

Instead, us lowly, inconsequential employees excluded from the real deal arranged a little golf competition of our own.  After an unusually productive day, we devoted approximately ten to fifteen minutes to this highly anticipated showdown.

This is the back hallway at work, where a putting challenge was set up for a lucky few.  We were each allowed two practice putts, where we realized, to our surprise, that the floor actually slopes to the left--invaluable knowledge with stakes as high as these.

The winner not only claimed bragging rights for all eternity (or until the next impromptu contest spawned from boredom and the faintest hint of scorn) but also a very desirable trophy--one dollar coin with a value estimated in the ballpark of one hundred pennies.

Because we don't do anything half way, the mastermind of this showcase of both physical skill and mental acuity felt it only appropriate to fashion a "pin" to dispel any confusion in regards to our aim.  

We were, in fact, to ensure that our respective balls ended up closest to said pin.  

Each participant was given only two chances at glory.

Did I mention we were to do so using a child's putter?

And a Spongebob ball?

Regardless of the circumstances and the many obstacles set before us...

well, not literally...

it was pretty much a straight shot...

more so, psychologically...

anyway, we persevered.  

And as it turned out, not a single one of us was very close to the pin at all.  We were nearly equidistant, forming a lovely circle around our target--which, to recap, was the pin.  

My best shot is marked by a scrap of paper on the very left.  

It is hard to tell from the angle this picture was taken, but it was a very close call.  

Really, it was.

Each shot was carefully, painstakingly measured before a winner could be named.

As the seconds stretched on, it appeared that somewhat of a Cinderella story was emerging...would it be an underdog thrust into the spotlight to win it all?  The bragging rights?  The glory?  The subtle disdain is his or her peers?

The important thing to realize, in times like these, is that we are all winners in our own way.  We each have something special to bring to the table.  It's more about the experience than a prize.  That is where the true value lies.  I am on a path to self discovery.

That being said...


My "trophy" is now on display under the glass on my desk.

Sticking to the Insanity schedule has been harder than expected.  I was off to a good start, but we went on a weekend trip to Chicago and my two rest days turned into SIX!  I was able to get back on track to finish out the week strong, but we are headed to Iowa for a wedding this weekend and I'm a little worried that I will be side-tracked again.  I'll keep you all posted.

COMING UP... Week 7: An Auctionary Tale

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Week 5: Insane in the Membrane

I am lazy.

That declaration should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever seen me attempt any sort of physical activity.  I am not naturally athletic.

I played softball for several years growing up.  Some of my many softball "talents" included clover-chain fabrication, staring off into space, and getting hit by the ball (a regular occurrence for a short, left-handed batter)--oh, and the occasional subsequent stroll to first base.

I participated in tumbling for a few years in grade school, but I am the least flexible person I know.  So, as you might imagine, that did not work out so well...

In sixth grade, I was a proud member of the cross-country team for exactly one day (maybe less).

My dad sent me to golf camps and even a cheerleading camp once, but I failed miserably at all of it.  I think that was a very difficult realization for my dad to come to as a coach for a variety of sports over the years and natural athlete.

Suffice to say, I read a lot as a child.

Interestingly enough, my dad and I were able to find common ground a few years ago when he wrote a weekly football column for a local online magazine and needed help with the editing.

Anyway, as an adult that lack of natural talent coupled with my inherent laziness has spawned a rather stagnant workout routine.  I'm not a huge fan of lifting weights or cardio.  Running has never been easy or fun for me although I have tried it off and on for the past several years.  I even participated in a 5k a few years back.  I think I finished in around 40 minutes or so--more so due to my competitive nature than my physical ability to do so.  For the most part, I tend to avoid any excessive, strenuous activity.   I do enjoy yoga occasionally, but again, I am the least flexible person I know so I cannot do a lot of the moves correctly.  I guess, in yoga, that leaves breathing...

Well, I'm painting a rather bleak picture here.

My other issue is that I am moderately to severely co-dependent (self diagnosed)--meaning I rarely do anything on my own.  My mom and I joined a gym together (right around the time we signed up for that 5k).  I never went by myself and we honestly did not go too many times together.  Basically, we spent a lot of money on the idea of working out with no real intention of actually partaking.

My brother, Matt, and I tried to do the Insanity workout several times, but we really took it easy on ourselves (i.e. paused the TV for looong periods of time or selectively participated in the exercises).  And, our schedules did not coincide well enough for us to continue the program for more than a week or two at a time.

Therefore, my challenge beginning this week (which is also appropriate given that it's following the cheesecake week) is to do the two-month Insanity workout by myself.

I created a schedule that closely follows the recommended plan.  I did give myself a few breaks to account for a few trips that were already planned.  My schedule has 21 rest days instead of the 8 on the real schedule, but I know for a fact that I am not going to bring the DVD and do the Insanity workouts while on vacation.  It's just not going to happen.

If everything goes according to plan, I should ultimately be finished by the end of September (roughly 2 1/2 months from start to finish).

I acknowledge that it all sounds a bit unrealistic.  But my last day of class ever was this Wednesday so I do not have that as an excuse anymore.  Plus, the whole point of this year-long experiment is to push myself.

I have no doubt that I am capable of a lot more than I have actually accomplished in my life thus far.  My problem is that I am really good at talking myself out of things.  I'm just so darn convincing!  My hope is that I will be able to channel that negative energy into more productive areas.  Instead of rationalizing my way out of experiences, I should be talking myself into those new adventures.

This week I did my first fit test which is supposed to determine your starting point as well as how far you have come over the course of the two-month program.  You have one minute per exercise to see how many you can do.  There are eight exercises total along with a warmup and cool down.  I'll be sure to post updates as the weeks progress so that you all can hold me accountable for this crazy plan.

Week One Results:
Switch Kicks - 75
Power Jacks - 30
Power Knees - 58
Power Jumps - 10
Globe Jumps - 7
Suicide Jumps - 10
Pushup Jacks - 4
Low Plank Obliques - 30

COMING UP... Week 6:Fore-midable Opponents

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Week 4: The Cheesecake Stands Alone...

I love cheesecake.

Maybe even a little too much in fact.  Thus, rather appropriately, I was given a spring-form pan, serving knife, and book of cheesecake recipes at my bridal shower (2 1/2 years ago).

Number of cheesecakes made to date: 0

(Sorry Mom!)

This week I rectify that problem by baking my first ever cheesecake from scratch!

Anyone who knows me can attest that I am by no means a cook.  My husband does the bulk of the cooking in our household, mostly because I do not particularly enjoy cooking.  I am much more interested in the fruits than the labor.  Cooking is extremely frustrating to me.  I don't really have the patience to do the prep work, the mixing, the baking, the waiting; and I especially abhor the subsequent cleaning.

I am sure that is a testament to my generation and the way I grew up, but I have grown accustomed to instant gratification.  And, it can sometimes be difficult for me to simply wait.

All the more reason this week's challenge is completely in line with the overarching goal of this experiment in self-awareness.

Mixing the ingredients for the graham cracker crust

Flattening out the crust into my spring form pan

Ready to go in the overn


After baking for about an hour and resting for half an hour, it was cracked and a bit puffy

In the fridge to set overnight.

After it set, the top appeared to bea little more concave than before.

After a bit of a struggle, I released the cheesecake from the spring form pan.

The sides didn't turn out too bad actually.

I cut along one of the cracks to disguise it a little haha

The fruits of my labor!
It wasn't too bad actually.  The texture wasn't as creamy as I would have liked, but it is edible.  That is really all I hoped for this first go around.  I am probably going to add strawberries as a topping for the rest of it, but I would call this a success.

COMING UP... Week 5: Insane in the Membrane

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Week 3: Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Guten Tag!  Ich heisse Brit.  Wie geht's?  Es geht mir gut!  Ich gehe ins Kino.  Ich moechte eine Cola.  Wunderbar!  Auf Wiedersehen!
Hello!  My name is Brit.  How are you?  I am good.  I go to the movies.  I would like a Coke.  Wonderful!  Goodbye!

And that is roughly the extent of what I remember from four years of German.

Oh, and...ich weiss nicht.  
I don't know

I definitely mastered that phrase.

Okay, I might remember a little more than that, but still, I am by no means fluent.

I really love the German language and always intended to go back and properly explore its intricacies.  When I was a teenager in Frau D's German class, staring down Herr Spock at the front of the classroom--which was literally a cardboard cutout of Spock from Star Trek who wore a sign directing us to speak "auf Englisch" or "auf Deutsch"--I truly believed that some day I would be able to converse with a Berliner in his or her native tongue without making a complete fool of myself.

Yet, here I am roughly a decade later, and I am much further from that goal than I was at seventeen.  This week's contribution to the experiment was not to become fluent in German, since I realized that was completely impractical and unrealistic, but to try (free) online German lessons.  I wanted to see how much I had retained and whether this was a feasible method of study. 

Although these lessons dive straight into practice without explaining the language's quirks like umlauts (those little dots over the letters) and the scharfes S (ß)--both of which I omitted in the German words above--both Frau D and Herr Spock would be glad to know that some of their teachings stuck.  As I watched the words appear on the screen and heard those familiar guttural tones, from some long-forgotten, cobwebbed corner of my mind came flying all those words and phrases that I had come to know and love so many years ago.

The experience was definitely completely different from classroom instruction, but I think it is something I could stick with for the foreseeable future.

Oktoberfest, here I come?

COMING UP...Week 4:  The Cheesecake Stands Alone...