Layers of life

Layers of clothing on these almost spring days that start out scrape-the-windshield and turn to shirtsleeve-lunch. Put them on, and take them off.

Layers of hair blowing down to the salon floor, revealing a head shape and a lightness of being that's been absent for a while. Take it off and leave it there.

Layers of grounding in a meditation session, building from a feeling of calm in one room and expanding to a sense of peace sent to the whole world. Start with one, and go to the next.

I realize as I write that everything is layers. From the recipe I'm following to the life I'm creating, it happens one step at a time, one level at a time. One cannot exist without the other. Leave out layers and things start to crumble.

Start with one layer and see where it goes. But to grow, either by reducing or by adding? You have to START.

Choose you. Unleash possible. START.

One foot in front of the other. Yes, you can.

One foot in front of the other. Yes, you can.

A different kind of list


Some group or another published a list of the most influential people in health and fitness for 2013, and though I have some issues with some of the people on there (Dr. Phil? Really?) and have heard of less than half of the others, it pleased me no end to see some of my personal favorites make the cut.

Shaun T. Insanity, T25. Motivation oozing from his Instagram and Facebook posts.

Tony Horton. The man behind the P90X (and all its variations) brand. He’s 55 and corny as heck, but there is no question that his workouts are effective effective effective.

Chalene Johnson, creator of my all-time favorite workout Chalene Extreme. She’s inspiring, motivating, and down-to-earth real despite her very hard-earned success. I would follow her anywhere.

Michael Pollan (of course) – what foodie can resist him? Mark Bittman, for the same reason.

Jonathan Fields, whose inclusion was interesting to me, as his work is in the “life balance” kind of health as opposed to the more traditional “eat right and sweat a lot” advice.

I posted this list on my Facebook wall, where a friend promptly fired back, “Where are you? This is BS!” Which I took as a huge compliment, even though he later on said he’d posted that on the wrong wall.

But it did make me think. Who are our personal gurus, the people we look to for advice and inspiration? I thought I’d share mine here, in no particular order. And yes, I’m focusing on the “health and fitness” angle, though I’ll include the Jonathan Fields definition here too.

  1. Tricia Lucas. Tricia is a friend of mine here in Charlottesville, very knowledgeable about nutrition and alternative therapies. When I have a question about vitamins and nutrients, she’s my absolute GO TO.
  2. Lindsey Neal. Another neighbor (and a Hospice doc to boot), Lindsey manages to infuse everything she does with excitement and energy. She is CONSTANTLY positive and upbeat, and I look to her for a dose of “rah rah” when I need it.
  3. Jen Lucas. I’ve known Jen for a long time (we were sorority sisters together at UVA) and my respect for her has only grown. Her work these days is in helping people find balance in their lives, or really helping people see the balance in their lives – and she helps me immensely every day, whether she knows it or not.
  4. My challengers. Every time I work with a group of people to increase their fitness levels, I am humbled and inspired. This group right now is no exception. They’re working with all kinds of obstacles, from time constraints to money constraints to physical constraints, yet every day they are going after their health doggedly. They’re sharing what’s working and what’s not, and they are lifting each other (and themselves) up in the process.
  5. Walker Thornton. Walker is a sex blogger who’s also in a writing group with me. Her posts make me think, challenge my expectations, and ultimately have opened my eyes to an aspect of my health that I wasn’t exactly comfortable being aware of.

There may be more that I’m leaving off the list, but for now, these women are my inspiration. Who is on YOUR list?



I posted these pics of my progress to date on Facebook the other day, which engendered an interesting discussion among people who don’t normally engage with my posts other than a “like.” There were the “WOW” and “you’re so brave” comments (probably because those first pics are in my underwear), but then we got into the meat of the whole thing.

Someone said “Hard work pays off.”

My response? “Consistency and forgiveness – one day at a time.”

Yes, forgiveness. We are so quick as a culture, as a gender (do guys do this too?) to beat ourselves up if we “fail.” If we fall off the track we’re carving out for ourselves. If we somehow show a weakness. It is my strong belief that if we don’t forgive ourselves or learn from those lapses, we’ll never stick to it. So you ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch one night. Or at a whole loaded pizza. So you didn’t get your sweat on for a week (or a day). Whoops. We all do it.


It’s kind of like riding a bike, or the proverbial riding a horse. When you fall off, you get right back on.

When you learned to walk, I bet you fell a bunch of times. Did that make you say “Uh oh, can’t do it. Better quit now. I’m such a loser because I’m not perfect.” Nope, and nobody else said it too.

Exercise and eating right, adjusting your lifestyle to have those be a part of your life? It takes work, and trial and success and frustration and setbacks. And it takes forgiveness. Not forgetting – you want to learn from it. Why did you eat that? What made it hard to work out? How can you change those things?

It’s badass to be nice to yourself. And I don’t mean “get an ice cream” nice.



Makeups. Part of this whole lifestyle change, workouts-not-optional-because-I-love-them-and-how-they-make-me-feel thing is that every now and then I miss a day. Then the next day I feel obligated to “make it up.” I wonder if I miss one every now and then because I have the "I'll do a double" excuse. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder about the real value in this. If you lose sleep one night, you can’t really make it up by sleeping more the next night. If you miss homework, many teachers don’t let you “make it up.”

As kids we were encouraged to “make it up as we went along,” for stories and sometimes even for clothing choices. How far off from that is pretending, or using your imagination? I’m all for imagination. I’m a writer and a parent – imagination is critical to my existence (and ought to be for yours, really.)

But if making it up is like pretending, then why pretend? Own that you missed one (workout, hour of sleep, homework) for whatever reason, and move on. Focus. Be present. Do the one workout the next day (or your next homework, or your next sleep) as well as you can do it. No guilt, no pretending.

Be a badass. No excuses.




It’s Monday. The first Monday in November. Kids have today and tomorrow off from school, so my morning routine was more akin to weekend than weekday – no alarm, no arguing with myself about getting up. The rest so far is similar. Workout, blog post. Make coffee. I have more company this morning than usual, since everyone is awake – even the sun.

It’s also the first Monday of non daylight savings time. Besides the fact that this makes no sense to me – why do we need to SAVE daylight in the summer, when we have so much of it? We need to save it in the winter, darn it! – this also has an impact on my routine. Like flying somewhere exotic with a time change, only the view hasn’t changed a bit.

Makes my wake-up a tad easier.

This morning, it also made it easier for me to up the weights in this morning’s torture my workout. The workout is “The Pyramid” from Shaun T’s T25, Gamma phase. The idea is you set a base and go up from there, peaking at the end. So you do things like hammer curls and squats, starting with one of each and working up to 7 of each (I think. I lose count.) The first two you think, “What’s the big deal?” and by the fifth or sixth level you are concentrating hard on not falling over or dropping the weights.

Last week when I did this workout I used 5 lb weights in each hand. (Snort at this and I dare you to come over and do the workout with me.) No real concentration needed to get it done, so I publicly announced that I’d up the weights this time. Thank goodness for these dial-a-weights . . .

Increments of 2.5 lbs don’t sound all that huge.

Tricep overheads to 90 degree holds in a pyramid fashion? Yep, 2.5 is the perfect increment.

Like my weights today, I think I’ll dial up the effort, the work. The badass potential.





Sunday nights tend to get me down. It’s thinking about the week ahead. Lamenting the need to wake up early in the morning. Wondering just how it is that so much didn’t get done on the weekend.

But as I sit here, in a peaceful house where I am the only one awake, sweat cooling on my back (getting cold, really), I realize that I need to shift. Sunday nights ought to be like birthday eves – filled with excitement and anticipation about what’s going to happen in the morning. Heck, every night ought to be like that!

So hereby I resolve to savor delicious possibility at night before I go to bed. And maybe I can turn Mondays into birthdays.

What’s your toughest night of the week?