Thursday, November 14

Training for two: How to lose 15 pounds the (not) easy way

Here's my advice on how to lose 15+ pounds the (not) easy way...

Swell up with edema in the last weeks of your pregnancy, then deliver a happy, healthy 8 pound baby. Between the new addition to your family and balloon-deflating reduction in swelling, voila! 15 pounds lost, and (much, much more importantly) a whole lot more gained.

This blog is on maternity leave until further notice so I can get to know the new man in my life.

Peace and love to you all,

Thursday, November 7

Book review on the run: The Blind Masseuse

A couple of weeks ago I received a preview copy of a new travel memoir, The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler's Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia, by Alden Jones...

I raved about it in an earlier blog post:
It's FANTASTIC. (And I'm not just saying that because the book was free. I've received many free books over the years, and if they're horrible, I either don't post a review or I tell it straight that the book sucked.)
... but this book was, indeed, fantastic. And I promised that I'd write an actual review.

The Blind Masseuse is a well-crafted travel memoir, but the book is also a deeper reflection on culture, travel, and tourism, and how those concepts intersect and conflict. (But that somewhat scientific explanation of the book's themes hardly do it justice.)

One of my favorite quotes comes early on in the book and set the tone as I hurried through the pages:
"While tourists spend their time away from home seeking out the comforts of home, travelers risk - even cultivate - discomfort, because what they want is the thrill of a new perspective."
That sentence stopped me in my tracks: Am I a tourist? Or am I a traveler?

As I followed Jones' trips around the world, which she admittedly makes both as a traveler and as a tourist, I kept returning to that question. And perhaps that's why the book was so compelling. Certainly Jones' writing style is engaging, and her travel adventures are at times humorous and at times poignant, but what sets this book apart from other travel memoirs is that it kept me thinking not only about the adventures of the narrator, but also about the larger context in which we explore our world (and in which I explore the world).

If we are tourists, we are merely brushing by the culture and humanity of a new or foreign place. We cling to the familiar and take photos of the foreign. We return with a scrapbook, but with no larger understanding of the world than we had when we left, ticket in hand.

If we are travelers, we immerse ourselves in all of the discomfort that comes with being out of our element. We delight in getting lost in a city, and then finding our way. We revel in learning a new word, trying a new flavor, or living on a different schedule. But eventually the unfamiliar becomes familiar. Ultimately it becomes our new reality. It's no longer foreign. And then, perhaps, we go off in search of a new adventure. Or, perhaps, we leave sooner than we might... afraid that the mystery of a favorite place will wear off if it becomes home instead of a destination.

And, try as we might, maybe even the most dedicated traveler has tourist moments. Jones writes:
"There is no disarming all of what we know, no matter how much touching and kneading and feeling we do, no matter how much we think we're trying. What makes us blind is what we think we see."
I can think of times in my own travels (both the short-term vacation kind and the lived in 5 different states and 4 different time zones kind) when no truer words could describe how I felt... thrilled at the prospect of a new adventure, but - at first - still filtering all of that new information through my old lens. It felt thoroughly reassuring, reading Jones' book, to know that even the most dedicated globetrotter has tourist moments, too.

Lest you think that the philosophical musings overwhelm the book, I assure you that the travel memoir is brilliantly written. Jones' history of her time in Costa Rica begins with the pleasantly disorienting title "Lard is Good for You." Her time in Bolivia is enlightening, if somewhat less than welcoming (picture getting caught in the middle of massive, and sometimes violent public protests over water prices). And her cruise around the world... well I'll let you read that for yourself.

So whether you're a tourist or a traveler, whether you've circumnavigated the world or you explore via the Travel Chanel from the comfort of your armchair: read this book. You will not be disappointed.

Training for two: week 40 (are we there yet?)

Aaaannnnd we're overdue!

Friday: 2 mile walk

Saturday: 2 mile walk + lots of yard work raking leaves and digging a swale for drainage in the back yard...
Yes... I've been told I should be "resting" but what's the worst that could happen? The yard work triggers labor? On my due date? That would've been a travesty... (sarcasm completely intended)

I did have contractions most of the day, which got my hopes up that baby was on his way... only to be disappointed to discover that it was "early" or "false" labor. *sigh*

Sunday: Rest day
False labor contractions kept me awake most of the night. So instead of exercising, I napped and read a book.

Monday: 3 mile walk + prenatal yoga
Have I mentioned that it's gorgeous outside in Virginia right now? Beautiful autumn leaves. Crisp weather. I'd rather have been in a hospital (first and only time I'll ever say that???), but my morning walk was pretty spectacular anyway.
Autumn color at the historic Carlisle House in Old Town Alexandria
Tuesday: 3 mile walk
And 3 days overdue...

Wednesday: 4 mile walk (2 in the morning, 2 in the evening, and my neighbors must be tired of watching me circle the block... I'm tired of circling the block!)
And 4 days overdue...

Thursday: 60 minute walk (3 miles? 4? It's hard to keep track when all you're doing is circling the blocks near your home for an hour...)

17 or 18 miles walked  + 0 miles run + some yoga
and still no baby!


A million articles on how to get labor started.
None of which actually work.
But hope springs eternal!

Public Service Message from Captain Obvious: These posts are not intended to be a set of week-by-week pregnancy workout guidelines. Every woman needs to do what's right for her and her baby, with a doctor's guidance, of course. I'd just like to keep y'all up to date on how things are going in my little world.