Fitness

On Imperfection

I will not be the first or last person to talk about imperfection. Insert trite truism about our social media airbrushed perfection image driven society blah blah blah here! Plenty of people smarter and more articulate than I have written powerful pieces on the topic.

Instead, I want to tell you what imperfection means to me. Specifically, I want to tell you about my skin.

Hangin' out in the skin I'm in at The Peak, Hong Kong

Hangin' out in the skin I'm in at The Peak, Hong Kong

I’m super pale. I come from a long line of people so pale that some of our freckles are white. For most of my life this has been distinctly unfashionable, so in my teens and twenties I absolutely hated my pale skin and tried to tan. Emphasis on "tried." 

I’m covered in freckles and moles, because see above: pale skin and sun damage. Some of them are cute (my mom used to refer to the crop of freckles that would appear on my nose every summer as brown sugar sprinkles), but a lot of them are bumpy, uneven, and weird (yes, I get my skin checked from head to toe by my dermatologist every 6 months).

I have cellulite. I’ve had it since I was about twelve years old. No matter how much I weigh, no matter how much I exercise, no matter how well I eat, the skin on my butt and the backs of my legs is lumpy and dimpled.  I spent a lot of time when I was younger tying sarongs over bathing suits and being sure that no photo ever captured me from behind.

In all my pale, freckly, cellulite-filled, scarred glory from a bachelorette party this spring!

In all my pale, freckly, cellulite-filled, scarred glory from a bachelorette party this spring!

I have a few scars. There’s a line on my lower abdomen from my emergency appendectomy in December 1995 (in Nairobi, Kenya - it’s quite a story). My bellybutton is a little wonky from an ovarian cyst removal in 2007 (it was 10 cm in diameter and my best friend named it Alvin - good riddance!). I have a long keloid on my inner left arm from the removal of a melanoma in 2016 (it had not spread, I’m lucky). 

There are a plethora of self tanners available, even ones that don’t make a person as pale as I am look orange. I could have larger moles removed if I wanted to. There’s a procedure to fix cellulite. My dermatologist has even offered me a shot to make my scars less prominent. For reasons that are only starting to coalesce to me now, I don’t do any of the above.

To me, my skin is part of my story. Yeah, it might look a little gross in places, but the human body is a little gross. That, and it makes me look interesting. No one else on the planet looks quite like me.

I love to be active and try new things, whether it’s a new workout, travel destination, or clothing style. In the past, caring about my imperfections has hindered that. These days, I put on my sunscreen and wear my workout clothes or bikini, and get on with it. The more time that passes, the fewer f*cks I give about whatever anyone thinks of my pale, moley skin with cellulite and scars. I can’t say I totally love it - at least not yet - but I’m getting there!

LMW

Organizing My Exercise

I found fitness in my 30’s.   Better, as they say, late than never.

To give you some background, I danced all my life, which kept me in decent shape.  However, I was generally terrible at sports, hated running with the fire of a thousand suns, and had literally no clue about what to do in a gym.  I may even have been known to make fun of friends who were committed to their fitness routines…  So, when I graduated from college and my life as a dancer ended, things went sideways. I gained weight, I lost whatever strength I had, and I felt crappy. I tried to get into yoga a couple of times, but never stuck with it.

When I turned 30, my sister called me out.  She had became a volunteer ski patroller during college, something we had both always wanted to do, and I was both in awe and extremely jealous of her.  She finally said, “If I can do it, you can do it.  So do it.”

If there’s one thing I love it’s a challenge, so I was in.  My parents put me in ski lessons at age 5 and took us on family ski vacations every year, so I’ve always been a good skier.  But I knew that to become a patroller, I’d need the fitness to back up the skills.

So, on my sister’s recommendation, I started working out with Shelby Jacquez at Diakadi twice a week.  In the most calm, even-keeled way, she kicked my butt.  But the funny thing was that because I was working towards a goal with Shelby’s support and direction, I felt empowered instead of defeated.  And as I stuck with it and started lifting heavier things, I even wanted more – more core strength, more endurance, more flexibility.  Please note – this feeling surprised the crap out of me and still feels really weird, since so much of my previous identity was wrapped up in being an anti-workout person.

Post workout: tired and pissed off tend to look like the same expression.

Post workout: tired and pissed off tend to look like the same expression.

These days, the absolute set in stone non-negotiables are personal training sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a pilates session on Wednesday.  During the fall and winter, I work on upping my cardio capacity for ski season by using the Nike Run Club app on three other days of the week.  During the spring and summer, I run much less often (ok, I still kind of loathe it) and instead fill in with a mix of cardio dance classes and long hikes with my husband and dog.

After my fastest 5K, on December 31, 2016.

After my fastest 5K, on December 31, 2016.

This schedule is sacred.  I have had the opportunity many times to work with clients during my previously planned workouts, but I’ve never taken it.   Not only does my fitness routine keep me in shape for ski season, but it also allows me to be a better organizer since I can lift and move things many people can’t.

Until I started weight training, I never thought of myself as a fit person.  I still sometimes catch myself thinking of myself as weak when faced with a new fitness challenge (like that time I tried Soul Cycle).  But to me the biggest benefit of finding fitness has been the confidence it’s given me.  Because I feel physically strong, I feel mentally strong as well.  Every time I do an exercise with a heavier weight, I finish feeling like I can take over the world.  It’s totally unlike my dance life, and still seems sort of alien, but the feeling is real!

Yes, I do wear a smaller clothing size than I did in my 20’s.  Yes, I weigh less.  Yes, my muscles are more defined.  But the thing I’ve realized is that those are just side effects, and they’re not enough to motivate me.  For me, my fitness routine has to have a practical reason and a goal that I’m working towards.

On that note, my husband and I have signed up to run the Napa Valley Turkey Chase 10K on Thanksgiving. Nothing gets me running like race fear! 

LMW

Weekly Peek

Something's up when Grandma and Grandpa are on the march.

Rise Up

For those who follow my Instagram @lmwedits, you'll know I put on my "women's rights are human rights" t-shirt to join the San Francisco Women's March this past Saturday.  I was proud to participate alongside women, men, and children of every age, race, sexuality, country of origin, and gender expression; and prouder still that both of my parents marched in Santa Barbara along with my sister, sister in law, and niece.  If these two lifelong conservatives got upset enough about the threats to human rights in this country to hit their first protests at 60-something years old, you can bet that something big is going on.  The fight for equality for all human beings is far from over, but it feels good to be a member of the movement along with my whole family.

Photo courtesy of vertical-method.com

Flipping the Script

At a silent auction last year, I came across a monthly pass to a new studio called Vertical Method.  It's sort of a combo of Pilates, barre, and some other things, except for using a mat and a horizontal bar, everything is done off a vertical bar.  I'm a big fan of Pilates - I take a private lesson once a week and fit in group classes where I can - so I figured I had to try it out.  It's definitely a good workout, and it will really help your posture if that's something you struggle with.  The vertical bar also adds a sort of jungle gym element, which I enjoy!  I just wish the studio was a little closer to me with better transportation - but it's a good option to have when I'm looking for something to mix up my fitness routine.

That small cabin is usually 10 feet off the ground!  Photo courtesy of squawalpine.com

It's Dumping

In case you've been too bogged down in all this rain to notice, the Sierra Nevada mountains have been getting slammed with snow since the end of 2016 - 23 feet of it so far!  In fact, today, Highway 89 was closed due to an avalanche (if you ski at Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows, you'll know this is as the road that connects Truckee to Tahoe City and Lake Tahoe) and people are still snowed in from the weekend.  While we're all excited about what this means for the slopes and the drought, don't forget about everyone working overtime to clear the roads, restore power, and make the environment safe for the rest of us!

Photo courtesy of cryptozoic.com

Game Night

Because of all this snow, my parents' condo at Tahoe didn't have power over the MLK long weekend, prompting us to cancel a planned ski weekend with friends.  We were definitely bummed out, but we still got everyone together for dinner and game night at our house.  Our standbys have been Settlers of Catan and Cards Against Humanity, but one couple brought a new-to-us game that quickly became a hit: Spyfall.  It's a little bit like Mafia, but more complex and unintentionally hilarious!

 

Weekly Peek

Friends Are Family

As I mentioned on the day itself, neither my family nor my husband's has a particular Thanksgiving tradition.  So it was that we found ourselves flying to North Carolina this year, to spend the holiday with my husband's best friend from college (they served as each others' best men), his wife and one year old daughter, and their families.  It was a warm and festive holiday just the way you always want Thanksgiving to be, including absolutely amazing food.  

Personal Best

I may have mentioned before (mostly because it seemed so daunting) that I planned to run an 8K race on Thanksgiving Day.  Well, I did in fact run the thing.  And at a personal best, averaging less than 10 min/mile!  I still don't think of myself as a runner, or even as a particularly fit person, but it was really rewarding to prove to myself that I can set a physical goal and achieve it.  I'm actually continuing to run a couple of times a week, but I am in no way addicted to long distance: five miles is plenty for a long run, thank you very much!

This is actually the room we stayed in!  Photo courtesy of fearrington.com

Cozy Country Inn

Our friends had a seriously full house while we were visiting, so we decided to stay in a hotel.  My husband found this adorable inn with amazing restaurant attached: The Fearrington House Inn outside of Chapel Hill, a Relais Chateaux property.  It was a little bit dicey getting to and from our friends' house since we didn't rent a car and Ubers were rare, but the commute was well worth the ambiance, service, and amazing food - from the included afternoon tea to the handmade chocolates placed by the bed each night.  If you need to be in the Research Triangle area, I'd highly recommend passing on the usual chain hotels and checking out this much more charming (and not much more expensive) option!

Weekly Peek

Friends pictured - the family was too busy exploring!

A Family Affair

This year, I served again on the event committee for the March of Dimes Signature Chefs gala, and as a dutiful committee member, I purchased a table of ten.  But who to invite to share the night of food and wine tastings?  We decided to make it a family affair!  My husband's mom flew in from the east coast, my sister in law and brother in law came into town from the Peninsula, and a few other friends were able to join us for a great night.  As usual, my husband made me promise not to bid at the live auction, and as usual, we came home with something from the live auction.  Hey, it was all for the babies!

Social Media Diet

As of about 8pm on November 8, I have not visited news sites or my personal social media accounts (other than my Instagram feed, an oasis of babies, travel, and food).  I was sick of the partisan back and forth, and wanted to take some time to regroup without the endless noise of memes, comment sections, and dire predictions.  And I have to admit: I am truly ashamed about how much time that has freed up!  In place of the bright blue screen, I've been reading more actual books, getting more work done, and generally feeling less like a human waste of space.  I don't know how long it's going to last, but I hope to be able to moderate my social media consumption more effectively in the future! 

Photo courtesy of soul-cycle.com

Soul What?

My best friend came into town for a weekend to attend our friend's baby shower, and she had one request while she was here: to take a SoulCycle class.  I don't generally go in for super fad workouts, plus I was absolutely terrified that I'd keel over and die, but she's my best friend and I couldn't let her go in there alone!  And you know what, it was fine.  It was a good workout and the time passed quickly because of the great music and the enthusiastic instructor.  I'm really not a fan of the extra hot and humid room (I produce enough sweat on my own thankyouverymuch), and I could do without all that intensity... the staff were pretty unimpressed with us as newbies and we could tell.  Still, I can totally see myself going to the odd class, especially when traveling, since it's super easy to sign up online and show up.

Photo courtesy of sf.eater.com (we got one of these cool booths!)

New Openings

I have a friend who's always on the pulse of the latest restaurant openings.  If you have a friend like that in a city like San Francisco, you know how great it is!  So it was that my three best girlfriends and I found ourselves sitting down to dinner on the very second night of service at August 1 Five, a modern Indian restaurant.  There was a little comedy to do with working out the kinks - my friend accidentally got a wine menu with someone's notes on it - but everyone was friendly and the food was so delicious.  We loved everything, even ordering more after we'd cleaned our first round of plates, but it must be said that the chicken biryani was stellar.  And the cocktails are excellent, but also note that it's just a couple of blocks from Whitechapel, a truly excellent gin bar, should you want to extend your night on either end!

What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of elle.com (Getty/Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo)

The Afterlife of a Ballerina

I danced all through childhood and dreamed of becoming a professional dancer (although it quickly became clear that a profound case of flat feet was going to get in my way).  The flip side of the dream is something I would never have thought about.

Photo courtesy of nymag.com (Naima Green)

Do Women Still Need A Space of Their Own?

The jury is still out on need, but want?  Absolutely!  I move that the next outpost of The Wing should open in San Francisco.  

The Binge Breaker

Overuse of social media is often cast as a lack of willpower or discipline, but what if we really can't help ourselves because of the way technology is designed?  And what if there was a different way?  (As a side note, The Atlantic is doing a lot of fear mongering these days, whether justified or not.)

Photo courtesy of skinet.com

SKI 2017 Buyers Guide

No, I don't need new gear... but that doesn't mean it isn't fun to look!  For anyone who's curious, my current favored setup is Nordica La Nina skis mounted with Marker Jester bindings plus my Fischer Vacuum series boots.  Backups for bulletproof days are my Nordica Jet Fuel skis (now discontinued).

What I'm Organizing

Well, some idiot signed me up to run an 8k on Thanksgiving Day this year.  (Hint: her initials are LMW.)  Of pertinent note: I rather dislike running, the longest I've ever run in my life is just over 4 miles, and I'm pretty terrible at self-motivating for exercise - which is why I generally rely on classes and private instruction for my fitness routine.  As I haven't really run since last fall, and 8k works out to about 5 miles, I'm having a bit of an "Oh sh*t" moment.

Photos courtesy of itunes.apple.com - not my actual runs!

Enter the Nike+ Run Club.  I've used the app before, just to track my runs and have a general idea of my pace and distances.  I love it because the app will talk to you along the way - telling you every time you've gone another mile, your pace, and total time - while playing any music you want from your phone (my personal running playlist includes a lot of 90's/00's hip hop and pop).

A great feature I just started using is the Nike+ Coach.  All you have to do is enter your race date, your current running status, and how often you can run each week along with your height and weight, and it spits out a plan to get you there.  I used to just randomly go run until I kind of couldn't anymore, but this is giving me much better structure to help me actually be ready to race next month.

As I've said before, getting organized isn't just about stuff, it's also about time.  Having a plan I can slot into my week and prepare for makes me that much more likely to follow said plan.  And there's just something about tracking and accountability that makes me want to prove to myself I can stick with it, and beat my previous achievements.

Plus, there's the ever-looming specter of that 8k race... I'll be sure to let you know how the Nike+ program works out for me!

LMW

Weekly Peek

Photo courtesy of absinthelasvegas.com

Green Fairy

As I mentioned last year, my husband and I spend our anniversary in Vegas every year - sounds weird, is always a great time.  This year, our trip was delayed until the end of August, but no matter.  We were still able to try out restaurants, shop and people watch until we dropped, and relax by the pool.  We also checked out Absinthe, a R-rated cirque-style show that's been in a tent outside Ceasar's for years.  All I can say is, if you're not afraid of a little profanity, GO!  The acts are top notch and the whole thing is hilarious from start to finish.  The show is moving inside to the Rose. Rabbit. Lie. space at the Cosmopolitan, which is another really fun evening in itself, so there should be plenty of future opportunity.

Only in San Francisco

One of my dear friends got married over Labor Day weekend - a gorgeous, understated backyard wedding full of love and family - which gave my best friend who moved away two years ago an opportunity to come visit.  My husband had a different wedding to go to, and her husband stayed home to take care of their kids, so she and I had a great girl's wedding hitting old haunts around the city.  One of those was none other than Swan Oyster Depot (which doesn't have a link because it doesn't have a website).  This place is a favorite of Anthony Bourdain and has lines out the door for a reason: the seafood is served simply and is the best you'll find anywhere.  Forewarning: they open at 11, but the line starts forming around 9:45 most mornings.

New Trails

The bride and groom also invited us for a casual BBQ and hike the day after their wedding.  I never exactly look forward to a schlep to the East Bay because of the inevitable bridge traffic, but on this day the trek was totally worth it.  My friends and I got the chance to catch up with the bride, which is so hard to do at the actual wedding, and discovered a dog-friendly park with a great variety of trails for everything from a one mile saunter to a multi mile serious hike.  If you're looking for a place to get outdoors, try Redwood Regional Park!

Making a funny face just as I catch the photo being taken...

Run This City

One of the things I love most about being a member of the Junior League of San Francisco is the opportunity to interact with this city in unexpected ways while giving time to a great cause.  This past weekend was the Giant Race, a half marathon/10k/5k put on by the San Francisco Giants to benefit Project Open Hand.  One free t-shirt and a quick lesson later, and I was checking runners in and handing out bibs and wristbands, chatting with people about the race, and generally having a great time alongside other JLSF volunteers and a big group from Salesforce.

Weekly Peek

Photo courtesy of yelp.com

Photo courtesy of korbinkameron.com

New Discoveries

One of my sorority sisters got married a couple of weeks ago in Sonoma, so ten of us decided to get an Air BnB house so that we could grill, chill, and lay by the pool all weekend.  We didn't plan to wine taste in favor of leaving our schedule open, but on Saturday morning my husband realized that the adorable hamlet of Glen Ellen was a) walking distance and b) in possession of several tasting rooms.  Off we went, and make two excellent discoveries: Korbin Kameron, a family run winery producing high end reds, and Kivelstadt, a fun startup embracing the weird, funky, and wonderful in wine (try the orange, it's crazy!).  Both places were super friendly, and we'll be back - we signed up for both wine clubs!

Photo courtesy of campari.com

A Light Beverage

I'm embracing the bitter in spirits these days - my new summer go-to is Campari and soda.  This is a classic you don't see people order a lot, probably because the bitterness of Campari is an acquired taste and an unexpected contrast to its festive bright red color.  But I find that if you add ice, soda, and a twist of orange peel, you have a refreshing summer drink that's neither sweet nor overly alcoholic.

Attempting (failing) to get Petunia to pose with the paw prints at Hopper's Hands at Fort Point

Walk the City

I'm so lucky to live in San Francisco, where we have plenty of parks and open space.  I've walked my dog in the Presido before and always wanted to go all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge but never found the time - until this past weekend!  We leashed up Petunia, grabbed a couple of friends, and set off on the ultimate urban hike.  The fog was just rolling in over the bridge, meaning that the Presidio was sunny and green, the bridge dramatic, and the weather just warm enough for a light layer.  After working up an appetite, we inhaled burrito bowls and tacos at Bonita, then moseyed up to Union Street for coffee at Wrecking Ball followed by a glass of wine at Wine Cask.  And even though the hill was daunting at that point, we did complete the entire loop by walking home, bringing our total for the day to just under 12 miles.  Bucket list item: checked!

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe last weekend (in which I sadly did not swim)

Taking a Break

I recently had yet another abnormal mole removed (not cancerous, everything is fine!), leaving me with stitches on the back of my leg.  In order to make sure I don't rip the incision, I've been instructed to take it easy: walking ok, weight lifting not so much.  Oh, and I can't swim - excellent timing in the middle of the summer!  I'm frustrated, but doing my best to use the opportunity to work on my upper body and core strength (as I'm basically configured like T-Rex, I can always use extra work in this department) as well as my patience (which does NOT come naturally).  Looking forward to getting my stitches out next week!

Weekly Peek

Ethics in Tech

I had the opportunity to hear Terry Kramer, adjunct professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, speak at an alumni brunch last weekend.  He gave an engaging talk on the state of the telecommunications industry, but to me the most powerful take away came at the end of his lecture.  He exhorted his audience to understand the existence and importance of the digital divide in the US: that is, the gap of knowledge and experience with advanced technology that exists between power users in cities, and ordinary citizens whose jobs are threatened by the technology that can eventually replace them.  He firmly believes that the tech industry needs leaders who understand this divide, the impact it has on voting and public policy, and the ways those effects rebound back onto their businesses.  Professor Kramer didn't have many kind words for the tech CEO as new world messiah leading from on high - he reminded us all to engage with our whole community and understand the ways in which we're all connected.

Chateau for an Afternoon

Last weekend, the Junior League of San Francisco hosted its annual sustainer tea, to honor and celebrate our long term sustaining members.  The event was sold out - possibly due to its setting at the rather difficult to access Carolands chateau in Hillsborough.  To be honest I had never heard of Carolands, but it's a pretty dead-on replica of a classic French chateau and was a lovely setting for a ladies' tea.  

Ballerina Dreams

Not that it's obvious these days, but I was a dancer for most of my life.  I started with ballet at age 4 and was hooked, eventually moving on to modern dance in high school and learning whatever my friends would choreograph for us in my student company in college (shout out to Expressions Dance Co.!).  I was never going to be a professional, but I still love the opportunity to get back in the studio and when I found out that the San Francisco Ballet holds adult classes I knew I had to try them out.  It turns out, the classes are exactly right for aging wannabes like me!  You can wear regular workout clothes and there's no shaming if you get lost, but if you use your technique for each step it's an amazing workout.  

Photo courtesy of tongaroom.com

Tonga! Tonga!

If you haven't been to San Francisco's iconic tiki bar in the basement of the Fairmont Hotel yet, you really should go.  A total throwback to the postwar era, the Tonga Room remains magically, cheesily unchanged, right down to the bandstand floating in the center of the 1920's-era swimming pool and the choreographed rainstorm every hour.  I recently visited with a whole bunch of my extended family after a big get together, and I have to say there's no family bonding like sharing lava bowls!