Crazy Track Lady Tip #2: Having Fun

July 30, 2010

Let’s face it folks, exercising can really suck at times. Many people hate the repetitive nature of exercise and eventually grow bored of the same routine.  Boredom leads to laziness, which leads to weight gain. Blah, blah, blah.

But I often wonder what would happen to our overweight society as a whole if everyone just exercised in fun ways? Forget jogging — DANCE around instead! Tired of lifting weights to get defined biceps? Just punch a bag instead. Think of it as a “dual purpose” workout — building biceps and relieving stress while you punch a bag and think of how many people in your world have pissed you off, lied to you, let you down, etc.

For me, exercising MUST be engaging and fun enough so that I will continue to do it. Instead of jogging around the track, I dance around it. I shimmy and shake and generally make an ass out of myself in public. But, that’s okay, I’m having fun while doing it, and the pounds are coming off. So, whatever works for me, that’s what I’ll do.

Exercise must be varied in order to work. The body becomes used to the same movements and repetitions that it no longer responds to what you are doing. Again, time to switch it up.

Many people believe there are only certain ways to exercise that work (running, jogging, lifting weights, walking a treadmill, etc). The truth is, movement is the key — and pretty much anything can get you moving if you are willing to think outside the box a bit and just try new activities. Here are a list of things that a person can do apart from their regular routine (or no routine, if that’s the case), that are so much fun, they don’t even “feel” like exercise:

Ice or roller skating

Playing kickball or dodgeball

Playing Twister (I swear it’s like kiddie yoga) or any childhood outdoor game

Martial arts (if you are opposed to violence, then go with a low impact one like Tai Chi or yoga)

Pillow fighting (I swear ten minutes of this and  you’ll be covered in sweat!)

Sweeping, mopping and scrubbing floors (for those who are clean freaks)

Water gun fight around the yard in summer, snow ball fight in winter if you live in a cold weather area

All of the above are a fun way to exercise, and you won’t even realize you’re doing it!

So today’s tip: MAKE IT FUN.


Crazy Track Lady Weight Loss Tip #1

July 25, 2010

July 25, 2010

Okay, so I have received my first comment from a fellow blogger who is looking for a weight loss support buddy or two. Terrific! I have someone else to help me keep accountable!

Today’s weight loss tip: substitute artificial sweetener (such as aspartame or Splenda) with a substance called “Stevia”. Sold in a variety of packages (packets, included), it is a natural sweetener that comes from the Stevia plant, and has been in use for over 400 years in Japan, the middle east, etc. It is actually 300-400 times sweeter than regular sugar, so use it sparingly. I am gastronomically sensitive to artificial sweeteners, so when I tried this, I was waiting for the side effects. I drink several large glasses of water a day, but can’t stand the lack of taste. I tried TruLemon, which worked great, until the high level of citric acid gave me a raging case of heart burn. So I turned to lemon wedges and Stevia. Absolutely delicious! One or two triangle wedges, two Stevia packets and a cup full of ice makes for a great substitute for a glass of pop (or soda, depending on the area of the country you live in).

Got a safe weight loss tip to share? Send me a comment!

CTL


Diary of a Crazy Track Lady 7-24-10

July 24, 2010

July 24, 2010

Well, it’s been 20 days (more or less) since you’ve decided to revamp your eating and exercising routine. I must admit, I had my doubts about it at first. But, I see you are serious this time and are doing everything you can to keep yourself on track to a new you. Okay, so you back slid a little bit last weekend. That’s okay, it was a wedding after all and it would have been rude to the guests of honor to not eat and drink alcohol, right? (Yep, keep telling yourself that).

Actually, I want to let you in on a little secret…it is OK to drink alcohol and eat crap food every now and then, AS LONG AS YOU DO IT IN MODERATION! Take only a handful of chips, put the bag back in the pantry, and savor the few you have in your hand. If you’re still hungry for something salty, eat a pickle spear. You’re not craving the JUNK, you’re craving the SALT!If you want a sweet treat, have a small piece of chocolate (which is good for the heart) slowwwwwly. It tastes so much better that way and it will keep you from wanting to eat the whole package.

As for the alcohol…watch the intake with that. It’s nothing but sugar. And, with the cran juice, the calories just add up quickly. It was very wise of you to stop your daily nightcaps, but don’t deny yourself the chance to have a drink or two on the weekends. Again, everything in moderation, right?

Guess what? You HAVE lost some weight! I know you didn’t step on the scale at the beginning of this “new you” phase, but everything has begun to feel a little looser. The Duff Beer shorts no longer pinch your waist. That’s a great sign, ya know? And by the way, the number on the scale is  not to be obsessed over — so don’t start weighing yourself all the time. What’s important is the way you feel about yourself, and how much healthier you can become by eating the foods your body needs. not what you want.

Speaking of which, have you made the connection that eating healthier foods has stopped the cravings? Yep, that’s the secret. Smaller portions, throughout the day, keeps the hunger pains at bay. In fact, you’re really not craving anything, ever, because you’re always eating!

Who knew it was this easy? Okay, so you knew it a couple years ago. And you stopped eating well. Well, look what happened. Okay, okay, I won’t beat you up over it, but I want you to continue doing what you’re doing because you’ve learned something valuable here. Don’t lose the lesson again, okay?

Love,

Future Self


Diary of a Crazy Track Lady 7-10-10

July 10, 2010

Hi there, lady! I am so happy to see you again. I just wanted to take a moment to say “YAY, YOU!” for your excellent work this past week. I am glad we’ve both decided to get back on track with exercising and eating healthier.  It hasn’t been too bad, eh?

I like how we’re starting to feel….again. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a chance to experience the endorphin rush, hasn’t it? Wow, how I have missed that post-aerobo-dogging calmness! I am sooooo glad we started that up again. And best of all, it’s FREE! Okay, so the idea of joining a fitness program and working out sounds wonderful, but why spend the money when we can use our neighborhood as our gym? The economy is tight enough as is, and we’re already stretched beyond our means. So, back to strapping the harness on your BEST PERSONAL TRAINER EVER, and away we can go –out to dance, sing, jog and fret about like the “crazy track lady” you’ve become. TAKE THAT, fancy health clubs!

Keep up the great work. I’ll be checking back in on you to make sure you’re remaining focused and inspired. Remember, two and a half years ago how HOT you looked? Well, we can and will get back there again. I’m in charge now, and I am NOT going to sit back and watch you fail again!

I’ll see you in a few days. And remember, I am here for you.

Love,

Future Hot Self


Psychic Income

May 22, 2010

Well, another school year of trying to influence the lives of the 11-13 year old set is about to end. My second year of teaching — first year as a full-time teacher. How do I feel? Exhausted, drained, spent, and surprisingly enough, exhilarated. I just had another of my “psychic income” moments, and this year, my psychic piggy bank is more than half full.

After cruising through life unfulfilled, I decided to go back to school and embrace my DNA. When I was in teaching school, my supervisor said something to me during one of our meetings that really caught me off guard: “You’re going to be an amazing teacher.” I wasn’t sure how to respond without coming across as an egotistical bitch, so I quietly changed the subject. But inside, I was furiously nodding my head and saying “DAMN STRAIGHT I AM — MY MOM IS WATCHING.”

I’m a fourth-generation teacher, and it’s a title I wear proudly. When anyone asks me what I do for a living, I hold my head up high, smile broadly and say: “I am a TEACHER. I teach language arts to MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS.”  I’m always amazed at how many people respond with: “You poor thing, middle school.” I’ll tell you, I’d take hormonal middle-school students over snot-filled, leaky primary students any day. Kids in grades K-5 don’t understand my dark sense of humor. I make them cry (not intentionally, however!)

My first year of teaching, I had to learn how to survive in an environment where I was bullied by grown ups who hadn’t really grown up yet — most of them younger than I am. I not only had to learn how to teach, but learn how to maneuver my way around a school filled with cliquish staff members who banded together to make other people’s lives (usually the ones who aren’t willing to play such immature games like these — i.e., me) miserable.  Fortunately, I quickly won the support of my students, their parents, and a principal — the only three groups of people I really need to impress anyways.

Some might wonder why I stayed at a school where I was bullied by staff. It’s simple — teaching jobs are tough to get, and my co-worker and I are so much alike, we were even dressed exactly the same when I interviewed for the position, as she told me after she insisted to the principal that I get hired immediately or “she’s walking”.  And, since God answered my prayers for a teaching job within 45-minutes of sending it up, I decided I owed Him one in return.

I digress. What I really want to say about teaching is this: “Teaching pays me in ways no amount of money ever could.” Oh sure, if someone offered me a high salary, I certainly wouldn’t thumb my nose at it. But, the money isn’t the issue — it’s the “psychic income” that comes from the relationships I’ve developed with some of my students and their parents.

I had one student last year (and again this year) who couldn’t write a full paragraph for me at the start of the year. His words were all over the page, and he wouldn’t capitalize or punctuate in the right places. Many teachers had him pegged as “odd” or “lazy,” I saw him as brilliant and untethered.

I worked with him all last year, slowly encouraging him to write more and more. When he came back to me this year, his writing exploded off the page. I couldn’t get him to stop writing, even when it was time to switch to reading, or vocabulary, or whatever else I had to teach. His stories had characters, intricate plots, development, structure, creativity! His grammar and punctuation were near perfect. His poetry was filled with the full spectrum of emotions. And most importantly, he worked with me and he thanked me — for being his teacher and showing him the joys of writing and poetry. Ka-chink.

This year, I had two students who made deposits in my piggy bank. One boy, who I suspect has dyslexia (yet undiagnosed), can now write clear sentences most of the time. He stops, takes the time to write carefully, and doesn’t slop his words onto the page anymore. The other boy, who I suspect has Asperger’s (working in a private school, there isn’t a high number of Special Ed students with definitive diagnoses to warrant services), has been struggling to write coherent thoughts all year long. His first writings were totally incomprehensible. I couldn’t even tell what shape the letters were supposed to be, much less what they were trying to say. These were my “project” students — two students I decided needed extra encouragement and help.

The first boy, the one with suspected dyslexia (I’m not an expert, just going on a hunch here), has been a poor speller and writer since kindergarten. So says the Special Ed teacher providing services to him (I use that term “loosely”, because I think he’s just feeding him answers, not assistance). When I saw the boy’s handwriting, I asked if there were anything I could do to help him improve. I was told “That’s the best you’ll ever get out of him. Trust me, I’ve been working with him since kindergarten, and he’s never gotten any better.” Well, of course that was the moment when I decided no teacher was ever going to tell me to give up on a student, so I said “We’ll see..” and grumbled off. A month or so later, it gave me great pleasure to walk up to that teacher, show him a thank you letter written by this student (without a single misspelling or grammatical error) and sneer “Told you, I’d get him to write.” Bitchy of me? Yes. But that teacher deserved to be taken down a notch. Ka-chink.

The other boy, the one suspected of having Asperger’s, continues to struggle with writing. But, something wonderful happened today. I made his mom cry. Why? Because I think she finally has an answer to her son’s situation — I sent her a link about the struggles Asperger’s students have with writing. She read the link and was so overwhelmed at how similar the post sounded to her own son, she started to cry and had to stop reading further until she could get herself back together again. All this time, she had been thinking herself  as crazy, because she knew something was “odd” but couldn’t figure out what.

I have had many moments this year where I heard the coins drop into my piggy bank:

Having an entire class tell you that “You’re the only teacher here who likes us, Mrs. B”

and, when I gave a breath mint to everyone “I LOVE YOU, Mrs. B, you’re the BEST!”

and just recently, “Wow, we’ve never had the chance to read for an entire class period! Can we do that again, Mrs. B?”

Ka-chink! That’s the sound of psychic coins plinking into my piggy bank. And I love that sound.


Language and Television Shows

April 30, 2010

Language fascinates me. Vernacular too. But what really fascinates me is the way “acceptable” language on television has changed over the last 25-30 years. Sitting down one night a week or so ago to watch an episode of the 1970’s TV hit “All in the Family”, it suddenly dawned on me: the censors have lost their grip on reality and sensibility.

The main character in “All in the Family”, Archie Bunker, was portrayed as a racist, bigoted, hate mongering, stereotypical buffoon. He was an EOO – Equal Opportunity Offender — spewing bigoted comments towards all minorities with equal aplomb. No minority, race or religion was granted immunity from his misguided and often misdirected hate: Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, Polish, the list goes on forever.

The following are some (but not all) of the terms Archie would often use to “describe” various minorities:

Kikes (Blacks)

Pollacks (Polish)

Mics (Irish Catholics)

Heebs (Jews)

Spades (Blacks)

3As and 3Bs (Hispanic Mexicans and Puerto Ricans)

Jungle Bunnies (Blacks)

(you get the hint, right?)

But, therein lies the problem with today’s censors. I’m not condoning the use of any of the above terms, but don’t they seem a little less “offensive” than, perhaps, some of the language that is allowed to pass through the censors today? Isn’t it entirely possible to picture a “Jungle Bunny” as a furry, cuddly rabbit hopping around a tropical forest somewhere, searching for fresh fern leaves to nibble? And isn’t the word “spade” just another word for a garden tool? “3As and 3Bs” is as innocuous a scientific classification as possible, so what’s wrong with using those to describe someone?

Nowadays, it seems like everyone on TV can swear all they want. I find it ironic that censors will let “ass” slide through, but bleep out “hole”, so it comes across as “ASS(bleep!)”  And for reasons no one has seemed to be able to explain to me, it is now perfectly acceptable to say G-ddamn. I know every time I say that, I look for lightning bolts to suddenly appear.

The ironic beauty of the language used in  “All in the Family” cannot be overlooked. Despite the racist overtones, offensive stereotyping and political incorrectness, Archie never did utter a single “curse” word. Yet, if today’s scripts ever used any of the same terms he used, there would be organized marches going on across America within ten minutes of hearing those words spoken over the airwaves. But, “reality TV” censors don’t want to run the risk of “offending” anyone.

And G-ddamn it, ass(bleep!)s like that really piss me off.


WHOA: Reflection on “The Oh Factor”

April 24, 2010

This poem is in response to Charles R. Smith, Jr’s published poem entitled “The Oh Factor” — a poem from his CD “Portrait of a Poet” about the effects poets can have on their readers. I call this “WHOA”, because of how my students reacted to “The Oh Factor”. I found his email and sent a copy to him this morning.
WHOA

Just lettin’ you know,
Your fluid flow
Made my poets say “WHOA
And move and groove
To the sweet, smooth, slick
Sensual sound of wondrous words
First time heard
Flippin, slippin’ and drippin’
Off your CD’s knees
Blowin’ thru the easy breeze
Aimin’ to please
young minds like these
Landin’ and commandin’ in their ears
Chillin’ their fears
‘Bout hearin’
One. More. Pointless. Poem.
Taught by teacher
Preachin’ ’bout
Love for all poets
And funky, fresh, flowin’ poems
That roam
From the home
inside the
fine young mind’s
predefined eye
where they realize
recognize
and utilize
scraps of verbs and
unknown words
can make themselves shout out:
“OH!
What do you know–
I guess
MY best
can make
others say ‘WHOA.’”


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