Little Help

I will be the first to tell you, and second would be anyone who has ever worked out with me, I hate pull ups! I hate them because I can’t do them. And when you can’t do something, you usually don’t love it. Or at least that is how I work.

However, in my ever evolving effort to become fitter and stronger, I am always looking for ways to turn something I hate into something I love, or at least something I can tolerate. Our pull up bar was something Justin added to our workout room door shortly after we moved into our house. Clearly an Army man. He has always tried to “assist” and encourage me to keep trying. I have always tried to pretend the bar wasn’t there. That is until something magical happened. I was introduced to something to help ease my hate towards pull ups.

Justin and I took a quick business trip to Denver at the beginning of September. Justin graduated from the University of Denver so we were also able to visit some friends of ours while we were there. Rich is Justin’s former college roommate, and Tiff his wife, is a beautifully fit woman who recently opened her own gym, Blunt Force. Before heading out to lunch we were able to tour her gym and some how she convinced me (well, I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to completely embarrass myself by being a weakling) to do something I hate. Pull ups.

She had this little gem called, Pull Up Assist, by Rage Fitness. She assured me I would be able to do the pull ups. Skeptical, but trusting, I stuck my foot in, gripped the bar above me and gave it a whirl.  It reminded me of a resistance band that propelled me up towards the ceiling. Actually, that is pretty much what it is. Not only was I able to complete some pull ups, this particular assistant didn’t grunt while trying to lift my weight like another assistant I had. 🙂

Justin and I were both super impressed by the band and decided we needed one at home too! All we had to do is attach it to our pull up bar.

It came with three bands. The more bands you use, the more assistance you receive. As you progress and become stronger you can simply remove a band from the carabiner.

We (of course) are using all three. I am telling you, I need all the help I can get. But with the pull up assist, I can do it!!! Look, I am even smiling! 🙂

Thank you to Rich and Tiff for introducing us to the Pull Up Assist and for inspiring us to become a healthier and fitter couple!


The Devil in the White City

On the morning of November’s book club meeting I emailed my friend Kali and said, “It is month two, and I am already a book club failure.” I was about 250 pages shy of finishing the book that was due by 7:30pm that night. And of course, I had a full day of work ahead of me.

She was about 90 pages from the end when we talked. We both had a chuckle about how we felt like we were in school again. So her response was classic, “Skim, skim, skim!” Luckily I was able to head home early from work that afternoon, and I spent the two and a half hours before book club trying to get as far as I could.

The book was, The Devil in the White City. It is a non-fiction book written in a novelistic style by Erik Larson. I rarely read non-fiction. Maybe the occasional memoir or some historical fiction from time to time, but rarely non-fiction. It is just something I don’t gravitate to at the bookstore. That is one of the best parts about book club though. I am being challenged to read something I wouldn’t usually pick out on my own. And challenged to finished the 390 page book by a deadline I was!

The book is set in Chicago, year 1893. The story alternates between Daniel Burnham, the lead architect during The Chicago World’s Fair and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who used his World’ Fair Hotel to lure his young, naive female victims to their death. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? It is, however, it didn’t really become interesting until I started to, “skim, skim, skim!” The first half of the book seemed overly detailed. The author did his own research which is really impressive. But, I really only wanted to hear about so-and-so’s tooth ache, and so-and-so’s gout so much.

The chapters about the serial killer weren’t very suspenseful either. I am not into murder mysteries because, frankly, I get scared. So I was happy it wasn’t very detailed, but then again, a part of me wanted something more.

This book definitely didn’t place in my top 10, but many of the ladies at book club really enjoyed it. It may be a generational thing where the older you are the more you appreciate history, or maybe it is the fact that all of the older women are teachers, therefore it might be a prereq to appreciate history. *Note, when I say these women are older, they are by no means old. They are just older than me, 50+. And when I say appreciate history, that doesn’t mean I don’t. I just wonder if it intensifies as you age.

If you had the book in your to-read pile, I don’t want to discourage you. This book was well written, but it just wasn’t something that interested me.

I was left with one question though that you might be able to help me with…why don’t we have World’s Fairs anymore?

Next up: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.


For the Bible Tells You What?

Election day is only four days away, and I am one of the least political people you will ever meet. I claim to be a moderate, a centrist, a person who doesn’t believe in career politicians or voting down party lines. I look forward to witnessing the first woman president, but also admire a first lady with a good sense of fashion. And although I don’t typically lose sleep during election season, I find myself constantly thinking about November 6, 2012.

I often wondered if I would ever believe in something so strongly I’d be willing to show up to the capitol to protest. Would I ever waive a banner, hold up a sign, or shout into a megaphone. (side note: Just stop for a second to think about me shouting into a megaphone. Talk about loud!) Turns out the answer is yes.

Minnesota not only will help elect the next leader of what I consider to be the best country in the world, but we will also be voting on two constitutional amendments. One of those amendments is the marriage amendment. An amendment proposed to discriminate and prevent couples of the same gender to marry.

I’ve heard a lot of differing opinions. And let me be the first to tell you that I am fully aware that everyone is entitled to their opinion. And that in America we have something called the 1st amendment- freedom of speech. (fancy that, a constitutional amendment to protect freedom, not limit it.) But let me also be the first to tell you that I have a hard time understanding and accepting an opinion that supports the marriage amendment. Some opinions believe homosexuality is a choice, is unnatural and is an abomination. While others see no harm in letting a couple of the same-sex wed. Love is love, right?

But one of my least favorite opinions is that they cannot support gay marriage because God does not support gay marriage. I am not a bible expert, I don’t attend church every Sunday, or really any Sunday, and some Christians would judge and scoff at that fact alone. But I still consider myself a believer. What I find myself struggling with is why. Why doesn’t God support it and how do we really know? God didn’t write the Bible. It is an interpretation of what people believe God believed. I don’t want to discredit the Bible, because it has a lot of good stuff in there, but isn’t it reasonable to believe that we could have gotten something a little bit off? We’ve all played the game telephone before, and we all know how the game ends.

I also don’t want to try to speak for God during this blog post. He has never visited me in a dream and said, “I actually don’t mind who marries who, as long as they are good people, believe in me, and spread the love.” I just can’t imagine God would discriminate against one of his very own children so why would he ask us to? When my younger brother came out as a gay man one of the first things he said was, “I am afraid God hates me.” It broke my heart. And right now the same people who don’t support gay marriage because of God would say that God doesn’t hate him, because God doesn’t hate anyone. It’s just that God doesn’t support his choices. What choice? The choice my little brother didn’t get to make? The choice to fall in love with a man instead of a woman?

I don’t know about you, but that logic totally seems off. It seems off to think that gay marriage will ruin the sanctity of marriage. What is sacred about it these days anyway? The fact that the divorce rate is through the roof? Is it the domestic violence between wedded partners (don’t worry though, it was at least between a man and a woman). Or is it something else?

I know I may not change anyone’s opinion by writing this. But I also know that it may make someone think a little harder about the issue. Maybe some people are inclined to vote in favor of the amendment because they don’t know anyone who would be directly affected by it. Feel free to introduce them to me. I will be affected, my brother will be affected, my WHOLE family will be affected.

By voting NO on November 6 you will not legalize gay marriage. Nothing will actually change. However, it will allow for this conversation to continue. So please, let us continue the conversation. VOTE NO!!!


1st Halloween

I know, it isn’t my first time celebrating Halloween as the title of this blog post might suggest. However, it is my first Halloween completely candy free. I am fairly certain even when I was under a year old celebrating Halloween I was able to sneak some form of candy into my diet.

Now, this isn’t to say I am sugar-free this Halloween. No, I still had a small piece of birthday cake and a cookie. And I can’t forget to mention my hot chocolate with a splash of peppermint schnapps, but compared to last year…there is a significant decrease in the amount of sugar filled blood running through my veins.

I made the decision the week after Halloween in 2011 to go cold turkey. It was time to kick my candy habit once and for all. My husband became the “judge” of all things candy for me. I know it seems silly that I would need someone to be able to tell me what is candy and what is not, but I had become pretty good at justifying most things. For instance, I ate Twizzlers once and claimed it was definitely NOT candy, instead said it was a snack. Logic can be a bit off when you are an addict.

Since I started this journey almost a year ago there has definitely been some ups and downs. Not eating candy ruled out some pretty tasty desserts- M&M cookies, Reese’s Blizzards, Reese’s McFlurries, cake topped with snickers or Heath, or really anything good that has any trace of candy in it.

I have also had way too many nightmares that consist of me eating candy. No joke. It started with Chewy Sprees. Then as I became stronger and continued to resist any cravings the nightmares became more embarrassing. A month or two ago I had a dream I relapsed on…wait for it…a Bit-O-Honey. Gross.

Despite my struggles I finally feel like I am becoming free from my habit. I crave it a lot less, and I can walk past it without an intense urge going through me. And although my mouth still waters when I see Starburst candies, and I sometimes ask Justin to breathe on me after he consumes something yummy and forbidden, I am happy with how far I have come.

With that said, even though at one point tonight I wanted to stuff my face with 40 full-sized, not fun-sized, candy bars, it is 9:37pm on October 31, 2012, and I am still, 100% CANDY FREE!!!