Getting Healthier & Stronger [Possibly in a Parallel Universe]
Getting Healthier & Stronger [Possibly in a Parallel Universe]

Getting Healthier & Stronger [Possibly in a Parallel Universe]

Do you ever feel like you’ve somehow jumped the rails to a parallel but healthier path in life?  Like, everything feels the same, but you’re suddenly compelled to eat better, exercise, do more, take better care of yourself?  And you have no idea what changed?  That’s how I’ve felt for the past 3 weeks.  It started on July 6th when I got this forearm tattoo:


It’s based on a stained glass window my German sister made for one of her cat houses.  Here’s her amazing DIY cat house and the custom window she made for it, in her garden in Nürtingen, Germany:

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Here’s the tattoo from my point of view when I look down at it:


As you can see, there’s also a word:  MROWR.  When people ask I usually tell them it’s the sound the cat makes; kind of like a meow.  But the real reason, which I’m shy to share, is that it’s the nickname I gave the little devil on my shoulder.  Everyone is familiar with the whole “angel on one shoulder, devil on the other”, right?  Well, I’ve always had a Guardian Angel, ever since I was a teenager.  His name is George.  It took me a long time to learn his name because at first I assumed he was a she.  But I finally got the clue my Angel was male, and he’s been a wonderful presence in my life ever since.

[This post didn’t have enough pictures so I’ll be adding in some random ones here and there]:

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So last month I decided my “devil” needed a name, too.  So I could yell at it.  After a few weeks of deliberation I finally decided on “MROWR”.  It’s WORM spelled backwards with an R on the end to make it funner to say [yell].  Now when I crave chocolate I can say “stop it MROWR, you had chocolate yesterday you’re not getting any today!”  Or “move your butt, MROWR, I don’t care if you’d rather be horizontal on the couch – we’re going to the gym!”  I hope that doesn’t make me sound crazy…

I already had the appointment for the stained glass cat tattoo, and at the last minute I asked my artist Tara [at Good Mojo in Beverly] if she could add “MROWR” along the side of the cat.  Now when I look down at my arm it’s directly in my line of sight and I’m always reminded of the devil that makes me want to overeat and not exercise.  Take that, MROWR!  You &#$%^# $&@!

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I’m not really sure what happened on July 6th, but ever since then I’ve made 3 effortless life changes.  Which is completely out of character for me.  I tend to lean towards the more self-destructive life choices.  Like, why eat frozen yogurt when I can eat ice cream?  Why drive the speed limit when I can get away with speeding 99% of the time?  Why the hell would I go to the gym when I am perfectly happy laying on the couch watching Walking Dead reruns?  The worse it is for me the more I like it [within reason, of course!  I’ve never done drugs or anything of that caliber shudder].  So this new way of thinking is very odd and puzzling, but I’m going with it!

[1] THE FIRST LIFE CHANGE:  I decided to go to the gym 3 days a week, for an hour at a time.  I haven’t gone to the gym with regularity in years.  Hubby and I went a lot this past winter and spring, and I rode the bike for 30 minutes.  But I was limited by carpooling with hubby – he runs 3.1 miles [5k], which takes him 25 minutes, and then he heads home.  So he’d wait in the lobby for me to finish up my bike ride and we’d head home together.  But I decided July 6th there’s no reason why I can’t drive myself to the gym and stay for as long as I want.  Right?  Right.  It’s nice and air conditioned in there [HUGE BONUS], and it’s not very crowded in the summer.  I decided I’d ride 10 miles on the recumbent bike and then do arm strengthening exercises on the weight-assisted machine.  If you’re not familiar with the weight-assisted machine, it’s awesome – it lets you remove however many pounds you want from your current body weight so you can actually do pull ups and dips without flailing around like a dying fish:

weight assisted pull up and dip machine

That’s not exactly like the one at my gym [the Ipswich YMCA] but close enough.  Right now I’m doing pull ups and dips as if I weighed 40 pounds instead of gulp 200…  I hate wedding weight – grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  And being mid-40’s makes it that much harder to lose weight.  I’ve been happily married for 4½ years now, which I wouldn’t trade for the world!  But HOLY CRAP!!!  I’ve gained 10 pounds a year!  It has to stop.  My goal this past January was to lose 20 pounds in 2016, 20 pounds in 2017, and the final 10 in 2018.  Hopefully that will be slow enough for me not to go mental.  I have tendencies towards disordered eating, and if I push myself too hard I end up in a binge/purge cycle, which I’d like to avoid at all costs… I’d much rather be healthy and overweight than thin and sick nods.


SO.  I waited a few days for my tattoo to heal, then started my gym regiment on Monday July 11th.  I rode 10 miles on the recumbent bike, which took 45 minutes.  Then I did 2 sets of wide-arm pull-ups [palms facing the wall], 2 sets of regular pull-ups [palms facing me], and 2 sets of dips on the weight-assisted machine.  Since then I’ve gone to the gym 7 more times.  Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for one hour.  I’ve currently ridden 80 miles [total] on the recumbent bike and have done all my sets on the weight-assisted pull up machine.  It’s awesome!  I’m very proud of myself.  I’m sore, but in a very good way.  I used to ride with the bicycling team at college – we’d go on hour long bike rides covering 20 miles or more.  In fact, I was very much into cycling all through high school and college.  But then… desk job.  So it’s very nice to be back riding, even if I’m slower than I used to be.


Walking and bicycling are my 2 favorite cardio workouts.  I like swimming a lot, too, but the pool is way too crowded.  I won’t swim if I have to share a lane.  And the only times the lanes aren’t crowded is at 5am [HELL to the NOT] or 9pm [bedtime].  And I like sleep more than just about anything, so those times are not negotiable.  But going after work is working out great.  I did try walking outside earlier this summer, before it got too hot, but the tendon under my left arch support hurt too much [I developed plantar fasciitis after 2 years of [barefoot] karate back in 2012].  I need to drop at least 20 pounds before I can comfortably walk for exercise again.  So I’ll keep going to the gym.  I’m hoping to turn myself into a gym rat.  Like those assholes I see every freaking time I go, no matter what day or time.  But they’re healthy & slender assholes, and they look great in their workout gear.  So there’s that.

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[2] THE SECOND LIFE CHANGE:  I started eating better.  Way better.  Like, a crap ton of vegetables for dinner every night.  And I have no issues going to the grocery store way more than I used to to buy those vegetables.  This is why I’ve been sharing my grilling posts – I’ve been learning how to grill different vegetables.  I’ve always loved the way things taste on a grill, and vegetables are no exception.  And on the days when I don’t grill, we eat salad.  I LOVE salad.  Always have.  I just wasn’t eating it very often.  Here are some of my favorite salad ingredients:


Here’s my salad and hubby’s salad from last night:

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We each have completely different salads, because we like different things in them.  Mine usually includes a bag of Fresh Express “Veggie Lovers” salad mix, tomato, green onions, sliced black olives, a Zesty Dill Spear chopped into pieces, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, 2 sliced hard boiled eggs, Lite dressing, and sometimes Purdue frozen chicken nugget things that you microwave for 2 minutes.  They’re not as healthy as a fresh chicken breast, but I have no time to make chicken.  I like the General Tso’s Glazed nuggets the best.  Sometimes we add marinated mushrooms or artichoke hearts, too.  Our salads are pretty big, so the rats usually enjoy the leftovers.  And I realize my salad would be healthier without the Gorgonzola, the microwave chicken things, etc.  But for now they’re staying in.  I only add the chicken things on nights I feel I need extra protein [over and beyond the eggs].

Hubby’s salad includes organic Spring Mix or 50/50 Mix, tomato, green onions, green olives – usually blue cheese stuffed or feta stuffed [I hate green olives so much I can’t even stand the smell of them when I put them in his salad, so I hold my breath], crumbled Blue cheese, 2 sliced hard boiled eggs, Lite dressing, a sliced avocado [I like avocado but it hurts my tummy really bad so I don’t eat it], and 6 veggie meatballs.  He prefers to eat about an hour after I do, so I make both salads, then put his in the fridge.  He cooks his meatballs later and tosses them in when he’s ready to eat.  YUM!


I’ve also been eating more fruit.  And trying fruit I’ve never bought before, like fresh mango.  I’ve had fresh mango smoothies, and fresh mango Lassi’s [OMGSOGOOD], and dried fresh mango.  But I’ve never actually bought a mango and tried to eat it.  Here was my first attempt:


Total FAIL.  But I did manage to eat most of the meat off those pieces and parts.  It was delicious.  I have since seen a youtube video on the best way to cut a mango, so hopefully my next attempt will be much less messy/frustrating/embarrassing.  Fruit really shouldn’t be that complicated.

[3] THE THIRD LIFE CHANGE:  I’m learning German.  I’m actually doing it.  I’ve wanted to learn German for YEARS.  DECADES.  I almost signed up for an adult ed class in 2010 to learn it, but backed out at the last minute because I’d just started karate and didn’t want to overfill my plate.  Most of my favorite bands are German [Rammstein, Eisbrecher, Megaherz, Die Krupps] and it would be SO NICE to understand what they’re saying…!  Like seriously.

And also, I’m going to Germany this fall to visit my German sister and it would be awesome to be able to speak the language a little.  I ordered a set of books and CDs [#affiliate] from Amazon 6 months ago, and tried to study them.  So tedious.  Then 3 weeks ago, for whatever reason, I decided to see if there were any free German language resources online with vocabulary quizzes, etc., and I found  It’s completely free!  And has 34 levels of study.  You have to pass 2 quizzes on each level before the next level “unlocks”.  It’s very much like a video game.  And I love video games… So I’m actually having fun learning German!  I don’t know very much yet, I’m currently on level 2, but I know that a hippo is a Flusspferd, which sounds like a Pokemon Go character, and makes me giggle.  And I know now that nouns are always capitalized.  And that the “ß” character sounds like “ss”.  One of my favorite words is “süß”, pronounced like seuss in Dr. Seuss, and means sweet/cute 🙂

It helps that many words, even though they’re spelled different, sound like English words when you say them out loud.  Like Vater [father], Mutter [mother], Fuchs [fox], and Katze [cat].  I’m currently learning basic verbs and nouns like brother, sister, dog, cat, to read, to write, to go, to eat, etc. [“see spot run!  run spot run!” anyone?].  But hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to string actual sentences together!

So hopefully this parallel path I’m on [or universe I’m in] will continue, and I’ll finally lose the wedding weight [and keep it off], get healthier in the process, and someday become fluent in German!  Hooray!

PS – when I first went to the gym July 11th, I rode 10 miles on the recumbent bike in 44:49.  Today I did it in 36:19!  Woohoo!!!  Amazing what you can accomplish in 3 weeks.  Feeling empowered, and very sweaty.

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  1. Your motivation is awesome! I, too, suffer from “wedding weight.” And for health reasons I need to get rid of some of it, but it’s SO hard, and I’m lots older than you. It doesn’t get easier.
    I also have been very into cycling (have ridden Seattle to Portland several times), but I haven’t been on my bike for 2 years. Gotta change that before summer is over!
    Don’t you love those slippery mangoes?? Thanks for the pep talk and good luck!

    1. Nine Dark Moons

      Wow, Seattle to Portland – that’s amazing! And sounds like a beautiful ride. The furthest I ever rode was 50 miles, for a fundraiser when I was in high school. That was a very cool experience. Yes, get back on the bike – it’s so great for the body and the brain. I like riding outside, but for now I’ll continue at the gym, because air conditioning!

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