Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas time as a Music Teacher!

If there is a more stressful time of the year as a music teacher I'd like to know what it is. Between my wife and I we have six music programs at our school in the next two weeks!
I haven't been able to keep up with writing on my blog lately, mostly due to work. The good part is I'm still getting a couple of runs in a week. Sadly they've been on a treadmill instead of outside, mostly due to weather and icy roads. I'm going to attempt to get a least some blogging done in the next week or so but realistically, I'll probably not being writing much until after Christmas. Hope everyone has a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Banish Misfortune at YBC!

My wife and I both play in a Celtic/folk group.  After a couple months of not being able to play a gig in public we finally played one this past weekend.  While this post really has nothing to do with fitness, it has everything to do with my other big passion, which is creating/directing/performing music.  Enjoy!

Janet & Aaron

Friday, November 26, 2010

P.E. Has to Change, Part 1: The Problems

Photo by uwdigitalcollections'
The following is a dramatic reenactment of a key moment in Janet's (The Editor's) P.E. experience. Names have been changed to protect the sort-of-innocent.

Teacher:  Ok, kids, today we're going to play kickball.

Class (including Janet):  Yay!

Teacher:  Let's pick teams.  Ok, Timmy, you pick team one, and Sheila, you pick team two.

Class (everybody but Janet):  OK!

Janet:  Yay!  I'm going to be picked last.  Again.

Five minutes later, Janet has been picked last, even after the kid with two broken legs.  It is now Janet's turn to kick the ball.

Teacher:  Ok, Janet!  You're up.

Janet approaches the ball with trepidation, though still filled with the heady exhilaration that affects all elementary kids when it is his or her turn.

Janet:  (To herself)  Ok, just kick the ball.  Doesn't have to be far, doesn't have to be fast.  Just kick it and don't look like a douche...just don't look like a douche...

Pitcher:  I'd better do it slow so she can see it coming!  (Snickers with glee.)

He pitches the ball at a speed that may outpace a caterpillar, but not by much.  Jeers and cheers from the other kids about Janet's remarkable lack of coordination ensue.

Teacher:  Stop it.  That's not nice.  (Other kids point and laugh mockingly behind the teacher's back.)  Janet, just kick the ball.

Janet:  (To herself)  Ok, just gotta make like the Mighty Ducks and go from zero to hero.

Janet squares up to the ball, runs to kick it, but kicks too soon, bringing her foot down on top of the ball instead of the side.  It rolls from beneath her and she falls flat on her butt.  Hard.

Pitcher:  Ha!  She looks like a douche!  Laughter from the class washes over Janet's humiliated and very sore body.

Tinkly music brings us back to the present.  Doo-dee-doo-dooo!   Doo-dee-doo-dooo!

For those of us who were not blessed with the ability to avoid tripping over one's own feet, P.E was an hour of social mayhem.  P.E., especially in high school, taught us one thing:  that we were horrible at most organized sports.  Looking back now as an adults who have struggled with weight and fitness, we wish P.E had taught us more about how to actually succeed with physical skills and less about how to dodge bullies in the locker room.  From our perspective, the way that P.E. is traditionally structured only works for athletes, and it teaches those who aren't naturally gifted to hate, or at the least dislike, exercise.  We hate athletics, not because we're lazy or uncoordinated, but we just can't take the humiliation of failing in front of others and exposing ourselves to ridicule.

Aaron and Janet are far from the only ones who have had this sort of experience.  Rita Barry, the editor and creator of Fitblogger, says, "Oh, I don't know if there's enough words in the universe to communicate the terrible, horrible dismay that was P.E. for me.  I was heavy, uncool, tragically so, and it was really just a lesson in humiliation.  So much focus was put on sports and proficiency in them, as opposed to health and why this 'gym' thing was even important.  Gym for me became a lesson in avoidance, blending, and hiding more than it was about learning, challenging myself, or discovering a love of physical activity."  

A more subtle, but possibly even more damaging, effect of traditional P.E. instruction is the unsaid, but often implied, belief that athletics are the pinnacle of human achievement, and those who are not athletic therefore do not matter.  Think about Principal McGee's line in the movie, "Grease:"  "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter."  We believe that two problems result from this belief.  First, Janet figured if she couldn't be an athlete, then she wasn't anything, and she believed that for a very long time.  Second, in Aaron's experience, he found that that attitude turns kids off to anything physical.  With the thousands of non-physical activities available, like video games, movies, television,  Facebook, and BLOGGING, it is very easy for a kid with low self-esteem to throw themselves into activities that are unhealthy in long durations.  We should note that we, as Band Geeks, are perfectly aware of the damage this attitude can also do to our music programs, especially if it is held by those who hold the purse strings.

Many schools require health classes in addition to P.E., which we don't think is a bad thing in and of itself.  Though, in our experience, it was taught like life science.  Information was presented and tested.  You turned in your quizzes, you got your grades.  There was no teaching that pushed students to apply the information in the course.  (Janet would argue that this is the number one problem for every subject in education today.)

Both Aaron and Janet are music teachers, and we feel physical education has a whole lot more in common with music education than is apparent at first blush.  Both teach tricky and refined physical skills.  Both have social components that need to be addressed.  Both programs are being cut at many schools.  Finally, and sadly, we find that in many ways physical and music education fail us because certain factors are not being addressed en masse by educators.

A class doesn't have to involve humiliation in front of one's peers.  In music classes like choir and band, the possibility of public failure is just as high as in a P.E class, especially when we ask students to perform something in small groups or by themselves.  BUT, IT CAN BE ADDRESSED IN A POSITIVE MANNER.  By helping those students achieve and by creating a class culture of support, our students learn it's OK to take risks.  We believe that the use of Human Compatible Learning in physical education will work to everyone's benefit, including the athletes.

In our next post, we will explain how this method can be applied and its benefits.

In the comments, tell us about your experiences in P.E.  What did your teachers do that was effective for you and your health?  Or was your experience more like ours?  See what other Band Geek readers have said about theirs on another post.


Photo by tuchodi
My wife and I usually spend Thanksgiving with her side of the family.  Her parents own a ranch outside of Wibaux, Montana.  It is always a great time, as it is the only time each year her family gets together all in the same place.  This is also usually the only time each year I get to go hunting.  Between getting a deer each year and the free beef we get from my wife's family we're usually set for meat each year.  However, this year we had a winter storm the day before we were set to leave to go to the ranch.  So unfortunately this year we had to stay home.  We spent Thanksgiving with my family instead.

It was a nice day.  If we hadn't stayed, my parents would have spend the day by themselves as the rest of my siblings were out of town. 

As far as overeating I didn't do to badly,  I probably could have eaten less, but I didn't stuff myself silly either.  It was nice not to be in pain after eating a holiday meal. 

The only thing that is driving me crazy at the moment is a case of bronchitis which is keeping me from working out.  I have a feeling that if I did try and do a work out I'd be wheezing and hacking pretty quickly.  So I'm trying to sleep a lot and get healthy as quickly as I can so that I can get back to my normal routine.

I hope everyone reading this had a great Thanksgiving.  I'm so thankful that I have a great family to spend the holiday with.  I'm also very thankful that I've spent the later half of this year losing weight and getting healthier then I've been in a long time.  What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

School and afternoon runs!

Photo by Kr. B
Every Wednesday my school lets our students out a half-hour early so that the staff can have a PD hour, which stands for professional development.  Most of the time this hour really isn't all that fun.  Though last week I talk to colleague of mine about going running once a week after our meetings on Wednesdays.  She happens to be the cross-country coach and is an avid runner.  Lucky for me she is always looking for someone to run with.  So today during our PD hour I had to do everything in my power to keep my mind on the task at hand and not jump forward to my afternoon run. 

This was the first time I've gone running with somebody else. It's also the first time I've on roads and not a track or a treadmill.  We only went for a short run, 2 miles, because my colleague had to get back for a first aid training class.  I have decided that I enjoy running a lot more with someone then by myself, she was very nice a kept a slow pace since I'm still fairly new to running any length of distance.  Running out in the county and not on a track or a treadmill was also awesome, I loved the feeling of being outside somewhere and not confined to a track or a room.  I'm definitely getting into this whole running thing.

We will try and run together every Wednesday so long as the weather doesn't get to cold or nasty.  If I ever get in enough training, she already said she'd run a half-marathon with me.  She has run several.  It is so nice to run with someone who has had a lot of running experience, but is still willing to take a newbie under their wing.  Yeah for wonderful people in the world.  My hope is that everyone who is new to running has someone like this to help them get started.

The first 5k of the season up here in Montana is in March I believe, I've agreed to run a 5k with another friend of mine sometime this spring or early summer, but then I want to see if I can train up to a 10k before the summers over.  Two good initial running goals I think.  I never thought I'd enjoy running as much as I am. I can't wait for spring!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drummers National Anthem

Photo by Garrette
This post has nothing to do with weight loss,
However, since I'm a band director and have conducting this piece a zillion times, I find the following extremely funny and true.

Drummer National Anthem:

oooo say can you BOOM CRASH
at the dawns early BOOM CRASH
Who's broad stripes and bright BOOM CRASH
through the perilous BOOM CRASH
and the rockets red 1-2-3
7- rolllllll-rollllll
o're the BOOM
and the BOOM of the

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Target Weight Achieved!

Photo by apdk at
When I started actively trying to lose weight back in June, my original target weight was 195.  I figured since I was sitting at 230 pounds, 195 was good first goal, which, as of this morning, I have met.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see what my BMI is at 195.  I used a BMI Calculator at a friend's website.  Remember, a BMI isn't the only number that matters.  Body builders often have a BMI in the obese range.  According to the calculator, my BMI is 25.7, which is barely in the overweight category.  To get to the top end of the normal range, I need to get to 189.  That is only six pounds, I think I can manage that.

I've started running a few times a week, as this spring I want to be able to run a 5K with a few friends of mine.  I'm really enjoying it even though I'm a running novice.  I also do a circuit workout from a DVD workout called Power 90.  That's the workout I used the most over the summer, it worked really well.  I'm enjoying the mix of the two at the moment.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

This Should Scare You

If you've ever gone to a doctor or adjusted your health habits due to a new study's findings, this should make you poop your pants.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

The article is long, but well worth reading.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Band Geek's Guide to the Gridiron

(Please note that the following is the Editor's overly anal and fussy perspective on college football.  Aaron just wanted me to scream and flash the crowd cam.)

A few weeks ago, one of our former students, Roy McKenney, mentioned that he was the drum major for this year's marching band.  He told Aaron that they were performing at the home football game at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT.  (Roy has lost 35 pounds, by the way!  Go Roy!)  Since we, the Geeks, would be in Missoula for our education conference, we elected to stay an extra night and watch them march.  There was only one problem.

Janet had to watch a football game.  She also had to ignore Aaron's chihuahua-like leaps of joy.

I received my Master's from U of M, so I guess I'm supposed to cheer for the Griz.  I went to classes over the summer, so I never was exposed to the psychotic fan fervor that defines U of M.  I had never been to a major sporting event, and I would probably feel more comfortable getting a root canal.  During a root canal I would just have to lay there and be sedated, and I would know exactly how to to behave.  Football game?  Not so much.

I decided that I would document and study the behavior I saw at the game so I could figure out how to act at any future sporting events.  I tried to see everything from a neutral standpoint.

First, I noticed that I missed the memo on what color to wear.

Our seats were in the student section, and I soon learned that the word "seat" was a misnomer, as there wasn't enough room to sit.  We stood sandwiched in with thousands of students, most of whom were working on their own type of sedation, though the drug of choice seemed to be Everclear.

Some seemed to be channeling the spirit of the bear, a ritualistic gesture designed to incite the murderous power of the beast to said football team.

This guy seemed to be channeling the spirit of a condom.

Also present were walking, dancing avatars for the team.  As cool as it was, how a guy driving a mini fighter jet in a bear suit will make them more likely to win, I haven't a clue.

There were several of our former band geeks present.  Roy, the drum major...

Logan, Roy's little bro, playing trumpet.  (2nd from left, center row.)  Logan lost a great deal of weight, as well, though I don't know the amount.

Andrew, another former student, playing saxophone.  Andrew doesn't need to lose weight.....dammit.

Here's the most puzzling aspect of the game.  I get the basic rules.

Get the ball in the other team's end zone.
Prevent them from doing the same to yours.
Don't die.

Ok.  Got it.  But does anyone else find it even a teensy-weensy bit hypocritical to go to these games to see guys get the piss pounded out of them, and then be all concerned when they get hurt?

Then again, band geeks everywhere owe a debt of blood to the players on the field.  Few would come to see the band by itself.  Sadly, no one has figured out how to make it a contact sport.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not Dodge Ball Again!

Janet and I are working on a series of blog posts dealing with childhood obesity and P.E classes in public schools.  Being that we're both teachers, we are very passionate about the welfare of children.  

We would like your help.  Please share with us your experiences from gym class.  Did you enjoy P.E or was it an hour a day you dreaded and wanted to hide from?  Feel free to leave your stories here or email them to me here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Band Geeks Unite!

The Band Geeks, Aaron and Janet Morgenstern, are pledging to step away from their keyboards, horns, and mallets and focus on their health, with the hope of balancing Geekdom with their repressed inner Jocks.

 All are welcome, even Orc Dorks, Choir Goobs, and all others whose stereotypes include a decided lack of social skills and a fondness for fundraiser candy.

Life is not a race, it’s a journey, and for many of us, getting healthier shouldn’t be a competition.

Musicians know how to do things together.

If a foot race was run like an ensemble, we would all run across the finish line at the exact same time with our feet pounding at an identical tempo (well maybe one or two people would rush and end a bit early).

Musicians know how to build each other up.

Many band geeks rush into the arms of the music department because we feel accepted and valued, and to give us a creative outlet that we cannot find elsewhere.

The Band Geeks: Aaron and Janet, strive to create an environment in which our students feel safe to try something new, despite the risk of failure.  We would like to create that same supportive and fun culture on this blog for whomever would like to live a life long and healthy enough to gripe about one’s grandkids’ music.

Talk to us.  Tell us your stories, and join Band Geeks everywhere as we run, arm in arm, across the finish line together.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

And then there was RUN!!

As I think I've said before, I'm a music teacher.  This weekend I'm in Missoula at a music convention.  This is actually one of my favorite events each year because I get to see a bunch of my band director buddies from other towns.  However it't been rough on my diet and workouts.  UGH!!

I ate horribly today.  And I felt gross because of it.  I guess I should be happy that eating badly has that effect on me now.

One of my students who's participating in our All-State Music Festival is also a cross-country runner.  The state meet is Saturday right after the music festival is over.

Since she needed to get some running in, and our hotel had a few treadmills I thought it'd be fun to join her running.

Now do realize that I've been working out regularly since June, so I'm in much better shape then I use to be.  But I've been doing Power 90, not running.  So I wasn't quite sure how that would translate.

Turns out it translates well.  I was able to run 3 miles easily.  I never lost control of my breath and I actually felt like I could have kept going.

This is exciting news to me since I've had this thought in my head for awhile now that I'd really like to be able to run races someday.  Well a 5k is in the cards now!  I think I just found a new life goal.  I would really like to be able to run a marathon someday.  In fact, I will run one someday.  Yeah for music festivals and treadmills!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Fitblogger!

Check out this new site!

It's a place where people interested in fitness blogging can share information.




Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Next Goal!

Since I actively started trying to lose weight in June, I have lost 30 pounds.  I'm now at 200 even.  I haven't been this weight since High School!  I'm finding that it's really easy to not make time for regular workouts during the school year.  I've been trying to do around 3 a week.  Some weeks that happens, sometime not.

I've been reading a lot of runner blogs lately and have been feeling inspired to start running.  I really don't know why.  My step-sister ran a half-marathon this summer and did really well.  For some reason I really want to run a race with her some day.  I think it could be fun, especially if I could get my step-brother and my oldest sister who were both cross-country runners in high school to do it with me.

The only problem I have is finding time to run.  Fitting in workouts isn't so bad, but finding time to run an hour or longer is going to be difficult.  Though I'm determined to eventually find a way to do it. It might have to wait until next summer, but I really want to be able to run a race some day.

On a completely different subject.  People who haven't seen me in a long time are noticing that I've lost weight.  It's a nice feeling to be noticed for making a positive change in your life.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Good, Bad and the Ugly on my diet!

The Good

The Bad
The Ugly
I have completed one round of Power 90.  I  enjoyed the process of it a great deal.  I was even able to lose 27 pounds.  I intend to continue doing Power 90 through the school year and then start P90X at the end of next May.  The one thing that I'm still really struggling with is eating well.  I could sit here and make excuses for why I haven't quite accomplished breaking my bad eating habits yet, but I'm not going to.  It's a daily struggle and I think I'm slowly getting better at making food descions.  Mostly.

About a week ago my wife and I started using Shakeology as a substitute for lunch at our jobs.   We love it.  It tastes great and its really good for you. We both love dark chocolate and Shakeology does a great job satisfying that craving for us as well. We did the math and figured out that it's actually cheaper for us to use Shakeology than to eat school lunch everyday.  Our school lunch program is very good as far as school lunches go, however, I still don't believe it's designed to really meet good nutritional needs.  I've been pleasantly surprised by how good I've felt the last week simply by changing what I eat for lunch.  Then today happened.

Today I decided to eat lunch at school instead of taking the 45 seconds this morning it takes me to mix a shake.  School lunch today was pizza.  I love pizza.  In fact pizza might possibly be my favorite food.  In high school I ate pizza everyday at school.  I worked at a pizza joint in the evenings and ate pizza most nights as well.  In college I memorized Domino's phone number, I think I still know it.  Even after all of that I still enjoy pizza.  A LOT.  Which is why I didn't make my own lunch today.

By 2:00 I regretted my decision. While lunch was really good, I didn't particularly great just an hour and a half later.  I wasn't really sick, but I noticed the energy I had all last week wasn't there.  Also my stomach while not really upset just didn't quite feel right. Then during my prep period at school a stumbled across this article written by David Zinczenko.   Talk about guilt and bad timing.  Now I realize some of this could be psychosomatic, but I really think after having eaten healthy lunches for a week my body was yelling at me.  I realized the pizza wasn't worth how I felt the rest of the day.

This morning I took my son to the doctor for his 24 month well check up.  He did great.  While waiting for the doctor to see us I read over and over a poster he has hanging in his examination room.  It says, "People who don't make time for diet and exercise now will have to make time for sickness and disease later."  Talk about the world conspiring against you especially since I read that before lunch.

I'm really starting to make exercising a priority, now I need to make eating healthy all the time a priority as well.

Can someone please tell me about a really healthy pizza?  I don't think I can give that one up just yet.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Band Geek Recipe

Hi.  My name's Janet, and I'm a carnivore, and I despise fish.  Fish is pushed in most diet plans for very good reasons.  It's high in protein and good fats.  It's low in bad fats.  Whoopee for fish.

When my dad was in college, he got rip-roarin' drunk, ate an enormous seafood dinner, then promptly decorated the floor.  As a result, fish was never allowed at our house unless he wasn't home, which was almost never.  Not that you can get fresh seafood in Wibaux, MT....  At any rate, my reaction to most kinds of fish is only slightly less violent than Dad's.  I had super fresh halibut in Alaska, and fell in love.  That's about it.  I was a good girl and tried my husband's fish creations, but he hadn't quite figured out how to tell if it was done.  Guess which piece I got.  Ewww.

There's a lot of debate about what place beef has in a healthy diet, which I will rant about in an upcoming post.  One of the best, healthiest meats I have access to is deer.  Personally, I would rather gnaw on a bloody bone than eat deer steak, but I love deer sausage.  Sure, there's a little pork added to make it stick together, but it's still low in bad fats.  I can't give you specific numbers because it's made with game sausage, but I can tell you that it's high in protein, fiber, and iron.  

My husband and I have developed this recipe after years of experimentation.  We have also noticed that we lost weight when we have it regularly for lunch.  The tomatoes kill the flavors in the cabbage that I find mildly unpleasant, and it reheats for lunches wonderfully. 

The downside to this recipe is that it's geared toward a very specific sausage.  We have our game processed at Shafer's in Billings.  The Smoked German Brats are very strong and salty, and making them into soup diffuses the salt and spices into the vegetables.  It's heavenly, and even folks who don't like game love this soup.  The sausages are cooked, so if you want to try it with another brand of sausage, shoot for pre-cooked and strongly flavored.

Schafer's Sausage Soup

2 packages Schafer's Smoked German Bratwurst
Lots of water-sorry, I never measure
1 tbs shallot pepper
2 cans of stewed tomatoes, undrained
2 packages frozen spinach
1 head of cabbage, sliced.

Slice the sausage into 1/4" rounds.  Place in the crockpot and fill approximately halfway up.  Don't forget to give a few pieces to the toddler jumping up and down on your leg.  Add the tomatoes and the shallot pepper.  Set the crockpot on low and let it stew for a few hours.  

When the water has turned a nice golden brown color, or about a half an hour before you would like to serve, add the spinach and cabbage.  Let the toddler sneak a few pieces of meat.  He really likes meat.  Serve once the stew is again hot and the cabbage is tender.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Editor Weighs in on Shakeology

Aaron and I broke down and ordered Shakeology, in a lovely shade of chocolate.  It is a bit difficult to mix, but I was immediately in love.  It tastes as chocolatey as my chocolate creme brulee (see "Custard's Last Stand), but it's not nearly as sweet.

After our first round was a bit lumpy, I whipped out the blender.  I mixed up several servings and kept the extra in the fridge.  Elliot, our toddler and I, had it for lunch while Aaron was playing a gig in Ennis, MT.  It was so thick that Elliot had trouble sucking it through the straw, so he dumped it out and tried to lick it off his hands and high chair.

I've already noticed a severe decrease in the munchies, which the literature said would happen after a while, but I didn't really believe would happen.  I'm able to walk away from everything but my problem foods.  Not only am I able to walk away, they don't even sound good.  That could also be partially due to finishing a very stressful job, or some combination thereof.  We'll see how I do during the week when school is back in session.

I'm reservedly hopeful.  If nothing else, each shake is cheaper than school lunch and tastes great.  It does seem to hold me, unlike Slim-Fast, which was a phenomenal flop for me.  The only thing that makes me leery is that it doesn't fix overeating.  Will the good effects last after you stop the shakes for whatever reason?  I don't know, but I'm willing to try it for all of the promised benefits and the ones I'm already noticing.

Power 90 results!

As of today, I'll have finished one round of Power 90.  I can't believe it's been three months already!

I've done fairly well, though not quite as well as I would like.  I've lost 25 pounds.  I feel better and I've thinned out a bit.  Honestly, due to a busy schedule in August, I wasn't able to keep up with the 6 workouts a week, which is probably why I didn't lose more.  I was able to keep up with doing 3 to 4 a week, though.  I'm trying to keep my results in perspective, as my journey towards being physically fit doesn't end at day 90.  I hope to still lose about 15 more pounds.  I haven't been under 200 pounds since high school.

Still I've accomplished lots of things I wouldn't have had I not done this program.  I have started biking again, which has been an absolute blast.  I can do 55-60 push-ups during the course of an exercise routine, when I started 15 push-ups were really hard.  It's been fun pushing myself to see what I can do, even though sometimes it leaves me a quivering pile of goo.

I have noticed that I have quite a bit more energy throughout the day without the use of caffeine, which is awesome!  I'm able to teach an entire day of classes; 2 bands, 3 choirs, music theory, and a percussion class, without feeling completely drained at the end of the day.

The one thing I haven't quite got completely under control yet is my diet.  Man, that's hard.  I've started eating breakfast, which I never did before, but I don't think I'm quite getting lunch and dinner right yet.  (The Editor notes that he no longer eats like our toddler, so we can give him a bit more credit than he gives himself.  He has learned that veggies aren't just a colorful garnish.)  I think my portions have gotten better but, I don't think I'm quite eating all the right things.  I haven't quite been anal enough to count calories, but I probably should start so that I'll know for sure.

The bottom line is that I've loved the last 90 days.  Power 90 really is a legit workout program.  I can't wait until I have the time again next summer to dive into P90X!  My goal for the rest of this school year is to lose that last 15 pounds and maintain that weight until next summer!  Wish me luck!  I know I can do it if I can keep myself motivated.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Your Best Foot Forward

While Aaron and I were biking today, I was pondering my next blog post, mostly to try and ignore the searing pain in my hip flexor.  I realized that I spend a lot of time mercilessly poking fun at my significant other.  Since it's considered bad taste to make fun of one's toddler, I believe it's time to point out a moment of brilliance of my own, lest you all believe that I'm a merciless witch, only spelled with a, "b."

I would imagine that being extremely gifted in sports would, at minimum, require the ability to tell one's left from one's right, which is a skill that my identical twin and I were murky at best from an early age.  One day, when we were probably around ten years old, our dad had graciously rounded up our cantankerous pinto named Dice.  Jen and I were initially thrilled to have a new horse.  We knew he was a paint, but not that he wasn't a she.  All of my visions of cute baby pintos lolloping through the tall grass were dashed when my dad informed me that Dice didn't have the right equipment.

We soon found out that Dice wasn't exactly the most agreeable pony.  We also found, given the right motivation, that I could outrun Jenny.  On the days we had to work cows, I would race to the barn and grab the other equally cantankerous, but infinitely more lazy, Appaloosa.  Namus may have been cranky, but he was disinclined to buck, as that would have required effort.  Consequently, Jenny ate a lot more turf than I did.

So, there we were, getting mounted up right outside the barn, which was across from our Grandma Peter's house.  We had only saddled Dice, so we were going to take turns riding.  I thought I was rather generous to let her ride first, and I also, very kindly, held the reins for her while she got on.

As she lifted her left foot to stick it in the stirrup, I rolled my eyes and said, "Jen, that's the wrong foot," summoning every ounce of know-it-all that I had in my body.

She, very wisely, said, "No, it's not," though her foot had paused in the air, and uncertainty began to cloud her face.

Ha!  I finally knew something she didn't!  "You use your other foot."

Slowly, she put her foot down, and with a great deal of trepidation, placed her right foot in the stirrup, and swung herself into the saddle.  The only problem:  she landed backwards.  Her head was facing Dice's butt.  In my defense, I had honestly thought I was saving her from the very thing that had just happened. 

To this day, I have no idea why I did what I did next.  I let go of the reins.  I'd like to think that I was reaching up kindly to help her down, but who knows what I was thinking.  Thankfully, Grandma had seen what had happened, and was able to watch in horror as Dice took off.  He didn't just mosey away, or break into a slow trot.  He ran as fast as stubby pinto legs would could go, and I swear they nearly blurred as the thundered, well, sort of thundered, away.

Jenny screamed and hung on for dear life as they whipped down the side of the barn toward the shop.  Feeling slightly guilty, I ran after them as fast as my sluggish legs would carry me.  I found them down by the gas tanks.  Dice, finally standing still, was munching happily on tall, ungrazed grass, though he was conspicuously riderless.

I had just found Jenny when Grandma rolled down in her Grand Marquis.  She yelled out the window, "However did she hold on?!" 

I said, "Pretty good."

Epic Football Fail

This is why the Editor would never be a football coach, as it involves being able to tell left from right.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


My wife and I have gotten into the habit of taking our son on bike rides whenever we can.  Since school has started up again, it's been very difficult to do this during the week.  So, the last two Saturdays have turned into biking days. 

We have a great bike trail a few miles from our home.  We've biked it several times over the summer, but never the whole trail.  Billings has quite a few trails spread throughout the city, but they're all short, maybe one or two miles at the longest.  This is the only lengthy trail in town.  Today, was the first time I biked the whole trail with my wife, which was 13.5 miles from our car to the end of the trail and back.  We did it with a two-year-old in an hour and a half.  Hanging out with my family, doing something fun that is also good for you...that was some of the most fun I've had all summer!  Can't wait for next Saturday!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh Yeah......I'm a music teacher

Today was my first day back teaching.  It went really well.  I think I have a bunch of great classes this year and a good crop of students to go with them.  Things should run smoothly.  At least that is my hope.

I"m 78 days into my 90 day workout program.  I've lost 25 pounds in the time.  I feel great and my stomach is starting to become flat.  Sadly no rockin abs just yet, though I hope to get there at some point.
I think my biggest challenge at this point is going to be maintaining a workout routine during the school year.  I'll finish my 90 days.  Then I need to make sure I keep going.  That will be tough with all of my extracurricular activities I do for my music program.  Hopefully I'm up to the task and with some great motivation from my wife,  I'll do my best.  That's really all I can ask for.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Romp through Skeeterville!

A couple of weeks ago I invited a bunch of my students, both current and former ones, to a game of Ultimate Frisbee, the game traditional for band geeks, orch dorks, and choir goobers alike.  I set up a event on Facebook and got about 16 of us together.  After much debate, we decided to play at a place called the Experiment Station, which an agriculture museum and laboratory.  A lot of events are held there, and there was a nice, open grassy area on which we could play.  It was great to see some of my former students, one who just graduated from college.  That little fact is making me feel old!  The only problem was...mosquitoes!!!  LOTS of them.

We've had a wetter than normal summer and the bugs are loving it.  The moment I stepped out of my car I had at least 8 of them on my legs.  Of course these are the type of mosquitoes that laugh in the face of repellent and merely point and snigger at Skin-So-Soft.

They're all like, "Hmm what's that wonderful smell?  I know!! Human meat with a slightly tangy sauce of OFF!!"

"Watch out though," said Zippy the mosquito, "humans can pack a huge punch once in a while!"

"Naw, no worries," said Bob.  "There's only a few of them and oh, 16,000,000,000 of us.  HAHAHAHA!!!"

The game was a ton of fun, though, and I was able to keep up for the most part.  We play a non-competitive version, so we don't keep score.  Anytime one of the teams scored, we simply change sides and kept playing.  It's a great game for getting exercise because you run, and run, and run some more.  I played it a lot in college and H.S. and we introduced it to the Huntley Project kids.

Three years into my teaching career I took over the band program at my school.  We are part of an organization called the Tri-County Honor Band.  This group is basically an honors band made up of the best players from all of the small schools in the area.  It rehearses for three months and then goes on a week long tour.  The first tour we went on I found out that other students really enjoyed playing Ultimate.  This was also when I discovered how completely out of shape I was!  I played with them for an hour.  The next morning I could barely get out of bed, and my legs hurt for a week afterward.  This was when I realized I needed to change my lifestyle.  Granted, it took me another three years before I actually did anything about it, but that was the moment I knew I didn't want to be fat and out of shape the rest of my life. 

I started working out regularly on June 8th, 2010.  My starting weight at that point was 230 pounds.  YIKES!!  As of this morning I'm down to 208.  My eventual goal is 195-190.  Things are going well.  I feel great!  Except for the bug bites!

Fibro Check-in

(The Editor Here)

I finally have some good news on the Fibro Front.  I am now down to two medications that I take daily, as opposed to five.  Getting off of them was no picnic.  Unbeknownst to me, Cymbalta, an anti-depressant that helps manage pain in fibro patients, has terrible withdrawal symptoms.  I've more or less had migraine symptoms for a month now, thanks to the withdrawal.  My head still throbs if I look left or right, though up and down is ok, for some reason.  It's not nearly as bad as it was in the beginning of the month, but it's definitely worse when I'm tired.

I've noticed a lot of things going back to normal now that I'm off all of those meds, things I didn't realize weren't normal.  I didn't know that insomnia was a side-effect of Cymbalta, and now I'm sleeping much better, even without Ambien.  (Insomnia is both a symptom of fibro, and something that makes the pain much worse if it continues.)  I don't know if it's related, but I'm eating less, too.  I don't have the desire, and I'm not complaining about it.

So far, I'm down four pounds from the beginning of the summer.  I'd love to say that I've achieved fantastic results like my hubby, but I can't do anything to the intensity that P90 demands.  For example, I'm very sore today from the Ultimate Frisbee last night.  For Aaron, it's best that he continues with his daily workouts.  If I do that, I'll flare, especially with where I'm sore, which is my lower back.  Bad juju, dude.

I've been thinking of posting some of the exercises I invented that one can do with a counter.  While working at the hardware store over the summer, I sometimes had to stand with nothing to do but lean on a counter for long periods of time.  I figured out a number of things that helped my back and built up my abs, but I'm afraid if I post instructions that someone will sue me if they are stupid and get hurt.  I'll make a decision soon.

I hope you all are finding progress in your journey to fitness, even if it's not nearly as quick as you'd like it to be.

Ya Do Run, Run, Run; Ya Do Run, Run.

What Aaron didn't say in his post is that the Editor joined the Ultimate Frisbee game last night.  I haven't played since I was in college, but I was pleased to see that I kept up with the kids, thanks to the frequent breaks provided by Elliot.  He had found a slightly friendly bunny that would allow El to get about four feet away from it, then would hop away another six after Elliot got too close.  The little turd kept giving Elliot hope that he would get bunny snuggles, and then snatch it away in a most dastardly manner.  Even though it toyed with Elliot, it was way better to say that I had to go save Elliot from getting rabies, as opposed to telling the kids my quads were going to explode.

I love my son!  He's adorable, he's loving, he listens pretty well for a two-year-old, and is the most convenient excuse for getting out of stuff.  Go Elliot!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Custard's Last Stand

The Editor here.  My husband and I celebrated our 8th anniversary today, though it was really on the 3rd of August.  Aaron's sister got married that day, so we put off our dinner until today.  His mother gave us a creme brulee torch, and I just finished making chocolate pots de creme.  Aaron's on his way home to enjoy the chocolatey goodness, and as I sit and write, I reminisce about our mutual love of creme brulee.  Though it's definitely not on the Beachbody diet plan, they can sit and spin tonight for all I care because it's our ANNIVERSARY.

A few years back, I decided that I must be a bitchin' enough cook to make creme brulee and not have to buy it at fancy restaurants.  We borrowed a friend's torch the first time, and damn!  Not bad, if I say so myself. 

The second time I made it, I didn't have any of the proper (insert French accent) "accoutrements" to make it correctly, but I grew up with the Montana spirit of (insert hick accent) "jerry-rig the sumbitch."  We had just used a thousand degree heat gun to remove tile from our bathroom floor.  Janet thinks, "Hmmm....a thousand degrees should do an awesome crust."

In many ways, I am just like my dad.  We both love creative problem solving and ingenuity, but unfortunately, we both occasionally think our bitchin' ideas don't require the use of safety equipment or common sense.  For those of you who have never used one, a heat gun is like a blow dryer on crack.  Aaron, to his credit, had just started the sentence, "I don't think this is a very good...." but Janet didn't listen.  I sprinkled the top liberally with white granulated sugar, and grabbed my trusty heat gun.  Drooling in anticipation of carmelized awesomeness, I flipped to high. 

Did you know that really hot sugar burns and flies?  I didn't!  As soon as I turned the superheated air onto the top of the custard, flaming sugar threatened to ignite our ceiling.  It flew willy-nilly and burrowed into our skin, not badly, but it sure didn't tickle.

I've noticed that I keep getting equipment from my husband for our anniversary that involves the correct process for making creme brulee.  Coincidence?  I think not!  Tonight, we enjoyed for the first time creme brulee made properly with our own equipment.  Look out, Paris!  Here I come!

The last month!

I'm now 60 days into a 90 day workout program called Power 90.  I've lost 18 pounds, which is good though I want to lose about 12 more.  The program calls for six workouts a week with one day off to let yourself recover.  Things have been going very well up until a week ago.  My energy level has dropped way off.  Probably due to not getting enough sleep.  My family and I have been entertaining a large number of family members the last week or so.  I've missed a few days and it really bugs me.  I really want to finish this program strong.  It really works well, so long as I actually do it.  I'm finding that it is becoming easier to make excuses to keep from doing the workouts.  That needs to stop.  I really need to make sure to keep working out everyday regardless of how I feel or what's going on that day.  I owe it to myself and my family to make sure that I'm as healthy as I can be.  One month left of intense working out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Note To Self:

Note To Self:  If a grasshopper lands on your foot while pedaling a bicycle, just grow a pair and deal with the creepy-crawlies.  Do not, I say, DO NOT kick your foot to the side while flying along at 20 mph.

I managed to somehow destroy my shifting mechanism on our little excursion.  Thankfully, my husband is better with bikes than he is with cars.  ("Honey?  Why won't the car go?"  "It's called oil, Aaron.")  Actually, he's really good with bikes, and as far as I'm concerned, if it doesn't go when I pedal, I go crying to him.

A few years ago, my bike was stolen and then recovered by the police, but not before the handle pads were gnawed off by a hungry gerbil while it sat rusting in a puddle.  So, I maintain that any mechanical issues that my bike may have are not my fault.

The Editor  (Janet)

Adventures in Biking

Having grown up in mostly small communities, I spent a great deal of my youth on a bike.  One day, I was happily pedaling along.  I was probably twelve blocks or so from home when it split in half.  Apparently I was too heavy for it.  Imagine for a moment a 2nd grader trying to carry two pieces of a broken bike home, crying the whole time.  Boo-hoo for me.  Luckily, a nice teenager was walking by, took pity on me, and helped me carry it home.

Due to the laws of physics, I've had a lot of crashes.  My first was when my older sister thought she could teach me to ride it without training wheels.  Thanks to Gretchen, I still have trust issues.

The worst crash I ever took on a bike was when I was 9.  My dad was a director of a Lutheran Bible Camp in Nebraska at the time, which made me and my siblings camp brats.  The crash occurred when I was riding my bike down a steep hill to the beach of the lake that was at the camp.  I was riding full bore down the hill.  Ah, the ignorance and invincibility of youth.  I hit a log that I didn't see in the tall grass.  I flipped up over the top of the handle bars and the bike went flying over top of me.  I must have somersaulted in the hair because I landed on my shoulder blades.  Of course this was before traumatic brain injuries were really "in vogue," so I did this with my noggin exposed.  Somehow I walked away from that one.  Many years later, I discovered helmets.  Helmets?  They make those?  Cool.

Today, my wife and I dug our bikes out of storage about 5 weeks ago and I got them in working order.  I couple of flat tires later we were ready to begin biking.  I grew up biking in towns, my wife grew up on a ranch twenty miles from the nearest town.  Yeah.  Doesn't really prepare you for traffic much, does it?

(The Editor notes that, though she grew up away from people who try to mow others down with bumpers, she did have a very traumatic collision with a chipmunk, though the rodent recovered after showing it to her mom inside the house.)

All things considered, she really did quite well.

It was a ton of fun to be back on a bike again.  About a week ago, our neighbors gave us a seat they weren't using and we were able to ride with our son.  We went down to the bike trail that runs along the Yellowstone river.  The first leg of the trip was great.  A nice 3 mile big hills...not a lot of traffic, and since we were moving the bugs were leaving us alone, except the one I swallowed.  It wasn't my fault.  He started it.  My son has discovered that he really likes riding on the bike, so he was happy as well.

Then we got adventurous.  At the end of the trail was a few paths that lead down to the river.  I thought it'd be fun to bike those since we do have mountain bikes and I remembered trail biking as being a ton of fun when I was younger, and yet, I forgot how much fun riding a suspension-less bike over river cobbles could be.  The boys are just now coming back out of hiding.  I now know that trying to go up soft dirt banks with a two-year-old behind you is extremely difficult.  Somehow I managed not to crash, though I did have to walk the bike up one section.  My wife seemed to be doing better than I, but she had just one person on the bike.

(The Editor notes that she actually flipped backwards after hitting a huge rock on an incline, but shhhh.  Don't tell Aaron.)

We got to the river just as the sun started to set.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Q2 KTVQ | Billings, Montana - News, Weather, Sports | The Midlife Chryslers... behind the scenes

Here's the Q2 KTVQ news clip from our St. John's gig last night.  Pretty cool even though I'm only in about 2 seconds of it.  But these guys are an absolute blast to play with.

Q2 KTVQ | Billings, Montana - News, Weather, Sports | The Midlife Chryslers... behind the scenes

Old-Guys Rockin

In addition to being a band director, I also play in two separate bands.  I play saxophone for a rock band in Billings called the Midlife Chryslers.  I also play guitar and sing for a Celtic/folk group called Banish Misfortune.  What's really funny is both groups are constantly debating new names.  For example, the newest name that my folk group really likes is, "All Folked Up."  Kinda catchy, and the rock group comes up with a new one just about every week.  Unfortunately, the rock band is fairly well known around are area and I think we are pretty much stuck with our current name.

The Chryslers just played a gig last night at St. John's, which is an assisted living/nursing home complex here in Billings.  St. John's started hosting a Thursday night concert series a number of years ago.  The concert series runs all summer and is free to the public.  They like us because our average crowd ends up being 3,000 plus.  The concert was a blast, as usual.

We even got a little local media coverage this time, though I'm only in a couple of clips since their main focus was on the doctors who make up the majority of the band.  I'm going to post the media clip separately from this post.

The only problem with playing in a large rock band is the amount of time it takes.  We started setting up at around 2:00 pm for a 7:00 pm gig, and I got home afterward at 11:00 pm.  By that point I was too tired to even want to think about doing my workout.  I suppose missing one day isn't going to hurt me all that much, but I was still not particularly happy with myself for not getting it in before I left my house at 1:30.  I guess that's the way it goes sometimes.  Collectively my two band have 3 more gigs in the next couple of weeks so I'm really going to have to watch my schedule and get my workouts in.  This will be good practice for when my normal job starts back up again at the end of August.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

This is supposed to make my life better?

I hate sweating.  Especially when it trickles down my neck and tickles.  I was a good girl.  I did my workout to the best of my ability when my husband wasn't looking, and when I've been sick for a couple of days.  Considering I slept an extra six hours yesterday, an extra four today, and that I'm now wondering when I should curl back up again, I'm tired.

I like how I feel after the exercise.  I hate doing it and how I feel while I do it.  I'd love to skip it, but I remember that doing this will give me more time...more time to play with my little guy, more time with my big guy, and more time to see my little one after he's grown.  It's worth it.



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Psalm 23, Slightly Revised

I actually wrote this for my other blog, Unity, Constancy, and Peace, but it seems applicable to Band Geeks.  I have posted below my version of the psalm, slightly revised. No disrespect is intended, only good, clean fun.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I unfortunately shall not be in want.

2 He maketh me lie down in green stretchy pants,
he leadeth me beside full buffet tables,

3 He restoreth my bowl.
He guides me in paths of plenty
for his name's sake.

4 Yeah, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of obesity, 
I will fear no cupcakes,
for you are with me;
your fork and your spoon,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with whipped cream;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely gooey goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

I Could Get Used to This

I could definitely get used to the smell of the carpet if it meant I could splay out on the floor instead of doing more push-ups.  Push-ups and I go way back: all the way to grade school, actually.  In fourth grade, the school allowed us to do a science fair project or an invention that solved a problem.  Ta-da!  I invented the Push-Up-O-Matic, the handy-dandy workout tool that made it possible to get your drooling face off of the floor.  I borrowed my mom's upholstery tools and had my dad cut some 2X4's for me.  I upholstered the top piece of wood so it would be nice and cushy for my boobless chest and screwed in two chair springs between the two pieces of wood.  I was crushed to find out that I didn't win the Science Fair.  It probably went to some kid who made something useful to skinny people, like a mini-cold fusion reactor or something lame like that.

I'm frustrated with my lack of weight loss, but I can't blame that on Power 90 because, up until now, I couldn't do the cardio.  I'm going to try to do the Level 1 cardio tomorrow and see if I flare.  My ribs informed me tonight that I had a choice:  I could either do more back flies, or I could breathe.  You guessed it.  I chose breathing.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tired Thoughts

Working out this past week was tough!  The program that I'm doing is called Power 90.  It's a six-days-a-week workout designed by a gentleman named Tony Horton.  It starts out nice enough.  You do three days of the sculpting circuit training and three days of cardio with one day off each week.  The program is divided into 8 levels.  Levels 1 and 2 aren't bad.  They teach you the moves and slowly allow your body to get used to working out six days a week.  I just switch over to levels 3 and 4 two weeks ago.  At this level the intensity and length of both workouts are increased.  I'm tired.

My time commitment has jumped from about 35 minutes each day to around an hour.  This really wouldn't be that big of deal, except that I've been working out in the evenings.  I'm a bit of a night owl and I can't seem to get my workout in before ten o'clock.  I should be doing it right after my son goes to bed at eight.  I can't quite seem to get myself to do it then, though I'm not sure why.  Anyway, I'm being a stay at home dad this summer and my wife is working at a hardware store.  My son is an early riser, usually 6:30 or so, but sometimes as early as 5.  I've been going to bed around 12:30 a.m.  Not much sleep time for Aaron.  I don't think I can sustain that for the rest of the summer.

On the bright side, I'm about half-way through my program, though I need to find one to do after this one is over that's a little shorter for when my schedule gets busy again when school starts.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Janet's Story

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of other things...." 

Just like millions of other people, I've always been at least husky, and lately, I'm overweight.  I managed to get out of Obeseland last summer when I got all of the baby weight off, but I'd still like to get to a healthier weight.  Just warning you, I'm not making fun of fat people.  I've almost always been one, and I have to find the funny side, or else I would cry.

Even as a grade schooler, I wanted so badly to be skinny like the other little girls.  They made fun of my identical twin and I a great deal, as were not only bigger than them, but my Mom made all of our clothes and I let my dad come up with my show-and-tell items.  "This is a model of a carbon dioxide molecule," I said in a little voice.  "Notice the single bond between the carbon and oxygen atoms...."  Looking back, I was a pretty normal size, but I didn't see it that way.  I saw my grandmother and mother struggle so much with their own weight that it was constantly on my mind.

My BMI was on the high side of the normal range all through junior high and high school, but the difference between me and my peers was even more obvious.  Gym class was hell.  It always made me achy to run, and I was so tight and uncoordinated.  In no other class do the teachers demand that you fail spectacularly in front of a crowd of kids who are sharpening their wits by coming up with devilishly wicked descriptors of your ineptitude.  Did someone write The Gym Bible and I missed the memo?  “Thou shalt maketh thy fat kids, nerds, and geeks climb ropes up to the heavens, for they shall be purified by humiliation.  Woe to ye who have mercy and pickest them for kickball first.  Thou shalt humble them by picking them last, lest they grow confident and sure and no longer help thee with thy math homework out of the vain hopes of making friends.  Yeah, though you tread through the valley of the shadow of obesity, thou shalt fear no doughnuts, for they have all been devoured by thy chubby ones.”

The pain that had been irksome in gym class began to spread and intensify in college.  First I lost the ability to tilt my head back.  Then my wrists and hands were painful.  I had sciatic nerve pain racing down my legs.  The muscles between my ribs would spasm so hard I couldn't breathe.  All this began while I was still a healthy weight, though, so I couldn't figure out what was going on.  I had tons of diagnoses:  TMJ, malformation of the spine, depression, anxiety, tendonitis, etc.  I was seeing a chiropractor, which helped, but the relief never lasted very long.  I was plagued by poor memory.

A few years and another surgery later, I'd had enough and went to see a spinal surgeon.  He said I was indeed deformed with a minor type of spina bifida, but I shouldn't even notice it.  He sent me to a rheumatologist.  Finally, I had a diagnosis that explained everything:  fibromyalgia. 

What's fibromyalgia?  It changes depending on who you ask.  Remember how achy and stiff your muscles felt when you had a very high fever?  That's how I always feel.  Medication helps, but doesn't keep me symptom-free.  I've been doing exercise programs for the last few years.  It's incredibly difficult.  If I do too much, I don't feel it for several hours, so I have no way of knowing at the time that I need to slow down or stop.  If I do too much for too long, I have what's called a flare, when the symptoms are so out of control that I can barely move.  Flares typically last a week or so, and it makes working as a general music teacher hell, especially since I have to travel to all of the teachers' rooms to have my classes.

I am able to do the Sculpt circuit on Power 90 without much difficulty because it is low or no impact.  I just have to be very careful with pushups to keep from flaring my shoulders.  The Cardio circuit is another thing all together.  Bouncing, especially side to side, sucks, so I ride a bike or go swimming on the cardio days.

It's hard, but it's worth it.  I'm not getting a dramatic transformation like Aaron, but I do feel better.  I'm so impatient to transform into the woman I want to be, and it can be very discouraging to make no progress.  So, if you're out there and struggling, I feel your pain.  I hope you can reach your goals, just like I hope to reach mine.

Can't See the Goosebumps for the Sweat Bubbles

Gross!  The Editor here.  Last night the Band Geeks, Aaron and Janet, had a gig.  Our Celtic band played for a kid's concert series that supports funding for kids with devastating brain injuries.  It was a hoot, but it was 106 degrees while we played, though it slowly cooled to 92 by the end of our set.

After we were done, the organizer shook my hand.  He said he had goosebumps, but I couldn't see them.  Curious, I asked why.  He ran his hand across his arm, and the sweat turned to WHITE FOAM!  NASTY!  Though understandable, considering the heat.

From the wisdom of magnets comes this thought

My good buddy Steve has a set of those refrigerator magnets that you can use to spell out different sentences and words.  His happens to be a troll word set.  My favorite saying that we wrote out was, "You Are Suck!"  That is totally how a feel right now.

My Celtic band had a gig tonight for a bunch of kids.  It was a ton of fun, but two other groups that were suppose to perform backed out at the last minute.  So we went from warm-up act to main event.  Normally, I'd be thrilled about that.  Not today though.  I failed to mention that this was an outside gig, on a baseball diamond, in 106 degree weather!  So we played for an hour non-stop in blazing sun without any shade.  Yeah, you are WAY SUCK!!  In the end we had a great time and the kids loved it, so I guess that's the most important thing.

It also meant we got home late and I hadn't done my daily workout yet, though I'd argue that playing an hour in intense heat was a workout.  I learned a valuable lesson in  sticking something out tonight.  It's now 11:30 at night and I just finished an hour of cardio.  UGH!!  Every core of my body said go to sleep and skip your workout.  But there was this one tiny little voice in the back of my head saying don't do it.  You're doing well, don't start slipping now.  Thank goodness that little voice won out.  I proved to myself tonight that I can do this even when it gets hard and I don't want to.  That being said, I probably didn't workout quite as hard as usual, but I did it.  That's all that matters at the moment.  "You Are Suck"; maybe, but not tonight.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Slight Change of Lingo

The Editor now controls the keyboard....BWAA-HAAA-HAAAAAA!

If you haven't already extrapolated it, the Editor is Janet, sometimes known as Mrs. Morgenstern, Mrs. M., or the Bringer of Anality.  Like Aaron, I'll be posting my story soon, but I had a quick, random thought while doing the Sculpting Circuit of Power 90.

I've been a lifelong recluse, book nerd, and annoying provider of random facts you'll never need, but I have never, not once, been a jock.  I've always been larger than the other girls my age, though not obese until I had my little boy, and the only thing I was good at in gym was body-checking the popular girls into the cinder block walls.  (Our gym teacher's motto was, "Make it bleed, Cupcake.")

After starting Power 90, terms like, "Bring it, foo!" "Boo-ya!" and "That's the way I roll," have been slipping into my vocabulary.  Is there something innate in exercise that makes those particular idioms make sense?  Who knows?  I hope I don't sound as stupid saying those things as I feel after the momentary rush of having cool lingo passes.

Aaron's Story

My name is Aaron Morgenstern, and I’m a 30-year-old music teacher in Billings Montana.  I’m married to a wonderful wife and we have a two-year-old son.  I play in two bands, one as a saxophonist in a ten-piece classic rock band, and as a guitarist in a Celtic/Bluegrass/Whatever-We-Want-To-Play band.  I also sing in a semi-professional vocal ensemble.  These three activities, being a father and husband, and my day job take up most of my time, much to the chagrin of my wife.

I have made very little time over the last eight years to take care of myself.  I wasn’t in great shape in college, but I was young enough to be able to rock climb on a regular basis and play ultimate frisbee with my friends twice a week, eat pizza, and still keep my weight reasonably low.

That all changed when I started my career.  Being a band director is a great job.  I love working with high school students, crazy, I know.  Unfortunately, music at the H.S. level is a HUGE time commitment.  It’s not uncommon for me to be to school by 7:30 in the morning and not get home until 10:30 or so in the evening.  Between concerts, pep band, and other music trips, the hours can be quite long.  I still love it, but it has caused me to pay very little attention to my health.

I weighed somewhere around 200 pounds when I started teaching.  This year, at the end of the school year, I tipped the scale at 230 pounds.  YIKES!  I didn’t feel all that well anymore, and when I would play ultimate frisbee or rock climb I could hardly move the next day.  There was also my my wife and son to consider.  Being a parent has completely changed my perspective on life.  I love being a father and I love my son.  I realized that if I didn’t do something now about my health, my son could potentially lose me to some horrible disease long before he should.  There is a strong history of type 2 diabetes on both sides of my family.

My wife has gently be prodding me to do something about my weight and health for several years.  (Ahem.  The Editor, I mean, wife, wasn't exactly gentle.)  My biggest excuse was not having the time to do it.  Sounds familiar, right?  My doctor has a great quote in his office:  “People who don’t make time for diet and exercise now will have to make time for illness later.”  That was me.  So, I finally decided to do something about it.

My sister in-law had a copy of Tony Horton’s Power 90 fitness program.  She lent it to me and I’ve been using it for about a month and a half now.  I was going to buy his P90X program, but it’s hard to say no to free.  I’ve actually been able to stick to it.  It was hard at first, I was a lot more out of shape than I thought I was.  I was pretty much constantly sore the first week.  I felt just like I did after I would go out a play a game of frisbee or some other physical activity.  But it kept getting better, each week I wouldn’t be quite as sore and I started to notice that I felt better.  I had more energy, which is good for keeping up with a two-year-old, and the workouts have gotten easier.

I’m not quite halfway through the program of 90 days, but, as of today, I weigh 215 pounds.  I’ve lost 15 pounds since June 8th.  I think that’s pretty good for 6 weeks of working out.  I still have a long way to go.  Figuring out how to keep healthy habits during the school year will be tricky between eating fast food on every pep band trip and trying to make time for workouts in an insane schedule.

But, I finally feel up to the challenge.  Getting in shape has become a bit of an obsession.  ("A bit?" the Editor asks, thick with sarcasm.)  My younger sister just ran a half-marathon.  I’m starting to think it might be possible for me to do that at some point in the future.  As of right now I’m very motivated and excited about how I’m feeling and starting to look.  Good luck to all of you on your own journeys.  Let me know how you are doing.

Aaron and Janet are Ready to De-Pudgy-fy.

The band geeks are doing fat camp, Beachbody-style.  We teach band, choir, and general music just outside of Billings, MT.  We were introduced to Beachbody products at our school and from our family members.  We had heard a lot of good feedback from several different people, some of them from the military, who use P90X to train while deployed.  We're here to tell you our stories and use you to keep us accountable.
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