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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