Marathon Musings

It’s been exactly one week that I finished the 2017 Maratona di Roma, a race I had dreamed of running and finishing for a long time. This was actually my second attempt after having to drop out last year, due to a hospital stay.

The course for the MdR is advertised as beautiful (true!) and fast (probably true) – so I had high hopes for a PR. I’m not a fast runner and definitely not a fast marathoner. I have no ambitions to qualify for Boston or win any age divisions. But as I started training for the MdR I generally felt in good shape through a combination of Crossfit, daily biking and running. I was confident I could finally break 4:30.

Spoiler alert: I did not.

It didn’t start too badly though.

Training

For both the New York City Marathon and the Munich Marathon, I trained with the FIRST method. The plan is based on a recent 5k, 10k, half or full marathon time, then gives you target paces for a weekly interval, tempo and long run. You only run three times a week for 16 weeks, but every run is challenging. There is no easy running. However, it does allow you time for additional recovery or cross-training.

I started training for the MdR just before Christmas, just as I was going through a busy period at work. But even as it was exhausting to train three times a week, Crossfit, work too many hours, travel for business and still try to sleep enough, I enjoyed doing it.

 

Beautiful chilly Munich, seen on my long run today. There's something peaceful about these cold weather runs, when the air is crisp and everybody is bundled up. (It's peaceful up to the moment you make it to Schlosspark Nymphenburg during Casual Walk Hour – another story.) We did Half Murph at Crossfit the other day (800m run, 50 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 150 air squats and 800m run). I didn't finish in the timecap, but managed to crank out 122 squats with probably not the best form. Those are the ones that make you hurt the most two days later. Naturally, my run wasn't the most comfortable today. I had no issues meeting my target pace, but felt sluggish the entire 16 kilometers. While I realized that this was the last "short" long run till the marathon, I also realized that three weeks in, training for the #maratonadiroma is going really, really well. Let's hope it stays this way! #run #running #runner #instarunners #instarunner #runners #laufen #münchenläuft #munichrunning #läufer #training #marathon #marathontraining #mdr #munich #minga #089

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Forget everything I said about winter running. It's the worst! 🤣 I got all bundled up and went outside to run my 5×1000 intervals. On icy roads. I had a hard time hitting my 5:19 target, actually missing it for the first two k. I just couldn't get a good grip on the ground to help me move forward. It felt like an all out sprint, yet I was too slow. After the first interval, I nearly already gave up and considered turning this into an easy run. Or even heading home. Obviously in retrospect, I'm glad I didn't because I did manage to meet my goal for the majority of intervals after all. I had something similar happen at Crossfit yesterday, where I realized at some point early in the WOD that it was harder than I was comfortable with and mentally, I just gave in. It's time I also work on mental training, not just physical. Anyway, super glad this is done. 👍🏻 #run #running #runner #instarunner #laufen #läufer #munichrunning #münchenläuft #munich #minga #münchen #089 #mdr #maratonadiroma #irunrome #marathon #training #marathontraining #fit #fitness

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I even continued running outside as Munich was hit by true-winter-like temperatures of -17°C (1°F). I still ran outside at 6 AM. I ran and sprinted and tempo’ed on icy roads. And it went so well that I still kept hitting and beating my target paces. I was so fast. I was high on adrenaline. I felt like I was flying.

And in retrospect, I was goddamn stupid. This is probably where I went wrong. Just because you can run faster than your target pace, doesn’t mean you should. I learned the hard way that running faster and harder doesn’t necessarily mean better. Just because you can run your 16k tempo at 5:50 pace instead of 6:26 (as prescribed per training plan), doesn’t mean you should.

I do realize now that I made a very rookie mistake: I overtrained. Badly.

This is where the fun ends

I kept ignoring the little pains and aches for as long as possible. Until they became so unbearable that I had to stop runs and was unable to finish them as I limped home.

Knee update! So I went to see my doctor today who was basically not telling me to go look for another sport but running, but sorta totally was. He insisted that orthopedically I was not made for running due to my knock-knees (X-Beine) and because of my weird kneecap. Or at least I was not made for ambitious running with tempo runs and sprints and training for a PR than a mere finish. He suggested I reduce stress through training, run easy and see whether this works for me. Hm. Funny how I managed to train for two marathons in the past, both with ambitious training plans. Sure, I started having overuse injuries on both training cycles, but never this bad. The fact that he wouldn't even answer my question about long term therapy (like physical therapy, chiropractic or other manual therapy) made me question his expertise, to be frank. After two horrible experiences with the staff at this practice, this is the last time I've gone there. He gave me a cortisone shot, which – together with daily foam rolling, ibuprofen and ointments – makes me hopeful I can make it to the starting line and cross the finish line. Then I'm trying a new doctor as I heal. #knee #injury #injured #marathontraining #maratonadiroma #mdr #irunrome #hopefullyafterall

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I saw several doctors, went through mixed emotions. Hope, despair, hope, despair. Hope. The first doctor told me, I had an inflammation, gave me a cortisone shot and advised me to find another sport. The second doctor believed at first it was the meniscus, then sent me to the MRI where we found out I had a torn calf muscle and multiple stress fractures. Possibly in both legs. And possibly not just the shins.

(For the record, in the MRI picture above, you see a dark, round bone – my thigh bone – and a much lighter bone below it – my shinbone. They’re both supposed to be the same color. Dark. All the white stuff in my shinbone are the little tears of the stress fracture.)

I might have cried (a little) after the diagnosis. With the marathon only two weeks away, I was pretty devastated. I knew that a stress fracture takes more than a week to heal. 4 if you’re lucky. More like 6 – 8. Or more. I had already accepted that I would not be running this race. The second year in a row.

There were no words for my disappointment.

All the sacrifices. Time spent running that I could have spent with my friends and family instead. Or sleeping.  Toward the end of the training cycle, I was physically and mentally exhausted. The combined stress of hard training, work (including a lot of traveling for business), therapy, multiple doctors appointments, having to organize a household and trying to see friends – it all became too much. But above all, the disappointment about the fact that this had been my shot at a PR – my endurance was great. My heart, lungs, muscles. All so strong and powerful. Yet my bones would have none of it.

My orthopedist, a former professional tennis player, had plenty of empathy. I received great treatment. We talked about what could be done and what would be safe. After the diagnosis of stress fracture, I had said goodbye to the idea of a PR. My priority had shifted to making to from the starting line to the finish.

The prescribed me a bunch of painkillers and magnet therapy, where magnetic rays are stimulating your joints to heal. 30 minutes every day. I knew it wouldn’t be a magic fix, but maybe enough to get me through.

We agreed I’d attempt the marathon. Take a bunch of painkillers the night before and day of, run and see how I feel. Drop out if I had to. But at least try.

Hours of Hell

I flew to Rome on Friday, so that I’d have all of Saturday to make it to the expo to pick up my race package without any rush.

Marathon Expo! \o/ 🏃🏼 #run #running #mdr #maratonadiroma #irunrome

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I got really overwhelmed at the expo. Alone in a sea of people. All these people looking a lot fitter and faster than me. I also got really scared of what lay ahead of me and whether I’d reach my goal.

 

By the time the race finally came around, I actually felt surprisingly calm. I felt relieved. We were gonna do this, I was gonna see how far I’d come and then it would be over. My only job post-marathon would be to allow my body to heal.

Most of the race is a blur. I actually don’t remember much of it, except that I was in pain. Pain. So much pain. Pretty much from the first step I took. I didn’t expect the marathon to be pain-free. None of the marathons I have run has ever been pain-free. I had just hoped it wouldn’t be from the very start.

The first thing I noticed was the calf muscle. It felt so incredibly tight. Later throughout the race, I had to stop several times to try and stretch it out. I also noticed my shins straight away, but ironically not the area where I had received the magnet therapy treatment (that pain didn’t come until later), but further down. My ankle joint and midfoot also hurt.

It wasn’t that bad at first. I hurt, sure. A lot sooner than I had hoped for. But it took until Kilometer 8 until I actually started wishing for the finish line. (Yay, only 34 km to go!!) Usually, that sentiment is reserved for the last 8 kilometers. ;o)

The course leads past a lot of (historical) sites but I can remember hardly any. I was so focused on somehow getting through this pain, while listening to my body for a sign that now was too much and I needed to drop out. I can’t tell whether that sign never came or whether it did and I just chose to ignore it.

I remember running around Castel Sant’Angelo and around Piazza Cavour with Rammstein blasting from a speaker somewhere nearby. Nobody else but me apparently thought it to be funny that they were singing about masturbating just steps from the Vatican City. I also remember running along the Via della Conciliazone, facing St. Peter’s and thinking that this (KM 18) was as far as I wanted to get. Goal – check.

I also remember the disappointment I felt when the 5 hour pacers passed me and I realized there was no way I could keep up with them. I must have been so zoned out that I had missed the faster pacers passing me. Realizing that no, I would not finish in under 5 hours was devastating and gave me plenty to beat myself up over the next few kilometers. (I eventually snapped out of it and gave myself a stern look for directing so much anger at myself and my body. My body which was doing an amazing job holding it together when it really ought not. When I was really asking way too much of it. Old thinking habits die hard.)

I remember the relief of passing the half marathon mark and realizing that I was now closer to the finish line than the starting line. Nonetheless, I must have looked miserable. I remember being asked by some medical staff at KM 30 whether I needed to drop out. Nope, only 12 to go. The last few seemed to take forever. I had to take several walk breaks, stop by the medics to get my knee and calf iced, stretch out what I could and limp on. Also around KM 30, my thighs started hurting – good old lactate acid – and my hip flexors and hamstrings tighten up. I was almost glad for some good old muscle pain.

It had started pouring the minute the gun went off and continued raining for possibly 1.5 – 2 hours, lightning and thunder included. At some point it had stopped, but during the last hour of my race it started again. Not only did this make the course more difficult (cobblestones become so slippery and because I didn’t trust my legs to be able to balance out if I stumbled, I was super cautious), but it also was freezing cold.

I can’t remember much between crossing the finish line and making it back to the hotel. I received the medal, cried (can’t remember whether that was out of happiness and pride, or relief because it was finally over), received a thermo blanket and then somehow stumbled to the medical aid tent. I received a nice, free massage, cried some more, got some food and hot tea, then stumbled back to the hotel like a zombie.

It took my last efforts to force a smile for my finishing photo. But look, I made it. Running the Maratona di Roma has to be one of the toughest things I have ever done. Let me tell you, my friends, running a marathon on what actually felt like multiple stress fractures and a torn muscle is tough. Running on cobblestone streets during almost constant downpour (we're talking thunder and lightning here!) is tough. The already uneven roads become slippery nightmares. Running and pushing through when you start hurting at kilometer 8 instead of when there are only 8 left, that's tough. At around km 30, my thighs started hurting – good old lactate – and my hip flexor tightened up badly. I was almost glad for the distraction I felt from the other pain. But apparently I looked so miserable that one of the staff members asked if I needed to leave the race. (There was a LOT of medical staff throughout the course. Very well organized!) But none the less, I prevailed. I finished. I earned that medal. 🥇My time is not even a disappointment – even though it's pretty much a full hour more than what I had originally trained for. Instead, it's making me respect slow runners who finish races a hell lot more. You have no time idea how painful running for 5, 6, 7 or more hours is until you've done it. After the race, I nearly passed out. It's somewhat blurry what happened but I think I found the medical tent, where I received a free massage. The walk back to the hotel then seemed to take forever. But here I am now. Tired. In pain. But happy. I so can't wait for my nap now! Congratulations to all the finishers of the 23rs Maratona di Roma!! 💪🏻 #garmin #instarun #instarunners #instarunner #run #runner #running #runners #maratona #marathon #maratonadiroma #mdr #IRunRome #iRANrome #proud #pained #läufer #laufen #rome #roma #italy #italia #vacation

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So what now?

I’ve thought a lot about this race and where I’ve gone wrong. I overtrained. Badly. I ran faster than I needed to out of wrong ego. I increased the intensity too much too fast. I have not done any tempo work in between training cycles and then jumped into a weekly interval and tempo session.

I failed to listen to my body and even as it was giving me very clear signs that I’d overdone it, I put my mule face on and stubborned it out. (If I do have one characteristic, it’s being stubborn as a mule.) Was that a mistake? Possibly. Would I do the same next time? Probably.

Right now my body needs and deserves to heal. I currently have no desire whatsoever to train ambitiously. I like the idea of going for a run for the sake of being outside, but that’s not smart right now. My bones and joints need time.

I always said that I was going to get my PR in Rome and then I’d be done with running marathons. This was my third and hence more than most people do.  I still like the idea of running a PR. I like the idea of running another marathon. I don’t know whether that’s the mule in me talking, the hidden disappointment of how this training cycle went or the fact that I currently don’t find any enjoyment at all in my alternative – Crossfit.

Thankfully, nothing needs to be decided now as my #1 priority is clear: rest.

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Meating at the Grill

Summer sure is ending busy!

August always tends to be a month full of things to do for me. With my birthday, with trips and with colleagues on vacation (which mostly means the same amount of work, less people to cover it), there always seems to be a shortage of time. Since my last post two weeks ago, where I talked about my trip to Lake Garda, I’ve visited my parents, hosted friends for a BBQ, made it through 3 important client meetings (one of which was an all-day meeting that I hosted) and somehow magically found time to train. Yesterday was finally the tipping point. I was so exhausted, I barely could see straight.

September will continue keeping me on my toes with my industry’s biggest trade fair coming up, the start of Oktoberfest and a half marathon that I’m very undertrained for. But September will also mean the beginning of a two week vacation and the implementation of a big change at work that I’m excited about.

The highlight of this past week was an event that I was invited to through a business partner. Weber is one of the leading grill/BBQ manufacturers in Germany. All over the country, they offer BBQ courses where you learn everything about BBQing. The courses are hands on: you get to help preparing the food that you then enjoy together.

Our course was held at Ziemann’s Kochschule in the Stachus area of Munich. Imho, the Stachus isn’t necessarily the nicest area of town, so I was totally surprised what a lovely location this was. A true gem I wouldn’t have expected!

When we arrived there, we were welcomed with a lovely aperitif and then invited to step outside and mingle. Most of the attendees were from my company, so it was nice and easy conversation. In the courtyard we found a small army of grills, from electric to gas to charcoal, in different shapes and sizes. Weber grills aren’t cheap – all that equipment was probably worth several thousand euros! I was extremely envious!

Our seminar was then led by a fun guy called Georg. He was a professional chef who had specialized in BBQing. Over the course of the next 4 – 5 hours he taught us all about BBQing, about the pros and cons of different methods, direct and indirect heat and gave us lots of practical tips. He was tongue in cheek and a pleasure to listen to.

I also learned that everything that’s less than 400 grams cannot be called a steak. It’s merely a started. 😉

We then moved inside to get prepping our food. Obviously, they had plenty of Weber products on display. I wanted to buy them all.

We had already grilled some pizza as a started and then went on to prepare some more courses: salmon fig toast, then pasta (the tomato sauce was prepared on a wok on the grill), before we eventually moved on to the meats. Steak and then beer can chicken.

The steak was spectacular! What surprised me the most though was the chicken. I knew you could grill entire chickens, but I was surprised by how tender it was! I’m not a big fan of poultry and generally prefer red meat because I find poultry too dry. But this chicken! Even the breast was delicious and juicy. It was a dream!

After we had all the starters, we moved inside to get seated for the main course.

Our main course then was pork shoulder with potatoes, grilled romaine lettuce and sour cream. Even our almond apricot cake came from the grill. It was a lovely evening and a fun event. I was surprised just how versatile a grill can be. I’ll definitely have to repeat a seminar like this.

Ciao, bella. Hello, Garda!

Last weekend, I got to spend a lovely weekend with my friends Dirk and Sylvie in Sirmione at Lake Garda in Italy. Monday was a bank holiday (Assumption Day), which meant we only had to take Friday off to get a four day weekend. Sweet!

It was my birthday on Saturday, so I was more than happy to get away for a couple of days.

Friday

Friday started with too little sleep for me, after we had a work event on Thursday night. Once a year my company is invited to a boat trip on one of the nearby lakes where we eat, drink, dance. It’s always a lot of fun, but obviously, you can’t just leave when you’ve had enough. Thankfully, this year we cruised around Lake Starnberg, which is a lot closer to Munich than Lake Chiemsee, where we were last year. Less time to get home from the party.

I still went to bed late, but I had hardly drunk, so when I woke up on Friday I was merely tired, not hungover. Dirk and Sylvie were nice enough to pick me up at 10 AM before we headed toward Italy. It usually takes about 4.5 hours to drive to the southern shore of the lake from Munich. The roads were empty enough and our trip was only prolonged due to our stop at the Brenner Outlet Shopping Center, after I had realized I forgot my Nanos at the box in Munich. Can’t go on vacation without a pair of Nanos. 😉 I personally didn’t mind the stop and getting a chance to stretch our legs for a bit. We also stopped for a quick lunch and coffee before we continued our journey.

Sylvie had booked a small apartment for us. Before we headed there, we picked up the keys at a nearby hotel. I nearly yelped in joy when we arrived at the apartment! It was très cute! The apartment was rather basic. A bedroom, a small, not very luxurious bathroom, a sofabed in the kitchen. But it didn’t matter. There was a pool! But the best – without a doubt! – was that the lake was just at our doorstep. We could see the water from our large balcony. It was pretty sweet! Considering we had booked rather last minute, this was a lucky find.

After we had settled in, we went to find a supermarket to get a few breakfast items and then took a first stroll along the lake. We had left Munich in the cold rain in the morning. Sitting by the lake, the sun shining down on us, the fresh breeze of the water felt like a warm, comfortable hug.

We ended the day with a lovely Italian dinner, some ice cream for me (ricotta and figs – a dream!) and then some lovely chatting and drinking on the balcony. The perfect start to a perfect trip.

Saturday

I was up a little earlier on Saturday and decided to spend the time reading the paper on the balcony until Dirk and Sylvie got up. Strangely, my insomnia only ever surfaces at home and I always get the most restful sleep when I stay anywhere but at home. It was wonderful getting up and feeling deeply rested for once.

It was my birthday on Saturday and as the day went along, I was happy to be spending it with some of my best friends at such a wonderful location. Numerous times throughout this day and this whole trip, I couldn’t help but think that coming here for the weekend was one of the best decisions I had made in a long time.

We had breakfast first before we then headed into the historic center of Sirmione for some sightseeing. The historic center is mostly closed for cars and since we hadn’t planned any workout activities for that day, I think we were all glad for a bit of walking. I know I was! We walked along the beautiful lake shore until we reached the Scaliger Castle, a fortress that was built in the 13th century. We headed inside and enjoyed the stunning views over the town and the lake once we’d made it to the top.

After a quick lunch stop, we walked around the peninsula some more. I really enjoyed the narrow little streets, the vibrant colors of the flowers and the water everywhere. Our final destination were the famous Grotte di Catullo, the ruins of an ancient Roman villa. As we walked around the impressive site, framed by the lake left and right, I kept thinking to myself had I been a wealthy Roman donna, I also would’ve built my house right there. Just sayin’.

By the time we started heading back to the apartment, we probably had already walked a good 10 kilometers for the day. We stopped by a bar at the lake and sat down for drinks. It was lovely. I’m not a big Aperol drinker, but there’s something about Italy, sun, summer and vacation that makes a Spritz the perfect drink. Especially in combination with people-watching. It was my birthday, so definitely time to enjoy some birthday adult beverages!

Back at the apartment, we squeezed in a quick pool workout, consisting of some swimming, dips, push-ups and squats. A vacation of doing nothing? That’s a no-no. We’re CrossFitters, after all!

Dinner was at a lovely steak house and the perfect way to end this birthday. It might’ve been once of the nicest I ever had.

Sunday

On Sunday we decided to go for some more activity. We rented a couple of bikes and rode along the shores to the town of Dezanzano. Bike lanes around the lake are well-marked and plenty. It was actually really comfortable to ride there. I did, however, notice a big difference between city bike (which I had for the day) and my mountain bike at home.

After lunch and a quick tour of Dezanzano, we found ourselves a nice spot by the lake for some bathing. We sat near a group of teenagers who played volleyball, much to our amusement. Dirk and Sylvie are former volleyball players and certainly took an interest in the ongoings. The water of the lake was warm and comfortable to swim in. It was so nice.

We headed back to the apartment, squeezed in another quick workout of air squats and push-ups and then a final Italian dinner.

Monday

Monday unfortunately already marked the last day of our trip.

I was up early again and decided to use the time until Sylvie and Dirk got up for a quick WOD. I ran along the lake for about 20 minutes, before I repeated the pool workout from a few days earlier. I felt the squats from the previous day in my quads, but didn’t want to miss out on the chance to run by the lake. It was still early and only very few people were encountered on the way. (I left my Garmin at home and regretted that decision. It would’ve been so nice to record my little run!)

After breakfast, we got ready and left the apartment on time. We then started our lengthy journey back, but not without three scheduled breaks. First stop: Malcesine.

Sylvie and Dirk are old hands when it comes to spending vacation times at the Lago di Garda. They head down there at least once a year. Usually, they stay in Malcesine, which is on the east shore of the lake, a lot further north than Sirmione. We had decided to stop there for lunch, some sight seeing on our way back.

I was surprised by how different it looked and how different the town and area felt with the mountains so nearby. The area around Sirmione is rather flat. Malcesine not at all! We took a scenic drive across the mountains; coming down gave us the most stunning views over the lake. It was a public holiday in Italy, Austria and parts of Germany, which you clearly could tell from the mass of tourists in Malcesine. The town was rather busy. The roads too. On our way out of the city, there was a giant traffic jam going into the city – all the way to the autostrada. Those poor souls.

The next stop left me equally excited: Kolsass near Innsbruck in Austria. Our box has befriended the owners of The Cube, a lovely CrossFit box. I’d met Vera and Mike before, but only ever when they came to visit Munich. I’d never been to their crip. They were nice enough to even open the box before official hours so that we could all do a WOD together. (Hello, new Nanos!) It was brutal, but so much fun! Vera and Mike are some of the most friendly, kindest people you’ll ever know and we felt so welcomed there. As we were getting ready to leave, members for their first class of the day started coming in and I was blown away with how lovely everybody was, truly making us feeling welcomed. That’s the true spirit of CrossFit!

Saying goodbye was only possible because Mike and Vera mentioned, they’ll be coming to Munich next weekend. WIN!

Dirk, Sylvie and I then continued the trip homeward with one – this time final – break at Lake Tegernsee, just an hour south of Munich. We stopped at the Bräustüberl, a famous restaurant for dinner, before we finally arrived at our final destination.

I felt so deeply and thoroughly relaxed after I came back to Munich – I would’ve taken a few more days of downtime. Dirk and Sylvie are some of my most favorite people in the world and I’m grateful, they invited me along to the get away. I felt like my soul really needed that refresher. ❤

More pictures to come soon.

 

More than a number

As yesterday’s Instagram post above implies, something important happened. I’m not calling it a breakthrough or the solution to all of my problems, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

I removed the scale from my apartment.

Say what, you think? For someone with a history of eating disorder, this is a big step. When you’re sick, the scale is your best frenemy. It can make you ecstatic or instantly ruin an entire day. For months and years, I’ve let the scale have too much power over myself and my mood. When I stepped on it and the result was good, I felt like the queen of the world. If the result was bad, I was literally in tears or close to. Or I’d drown in a poisonous spiral of self loathing and hate. It was scary how much power the scale had over my mood.

Recently, I’ve caught myself thinking several times that maybe, my weight isn’t all that defines me. Maybe, I’m actually perfectly OK, regardless of what the scale says. Yesterday, I had a good WOD at CrossFit. My split jerk felt strong and solid and the following WOD was awful, but I gave it my best and tried my hardest. Even if I realized very quickly where my weaknesses still are. But, I tried. There was something about that effort that gave me a big boost. It’s hard to explain in words, but I felt like some kind of pressure had fallen off my shoulders. It wasn’t about what my body looked like or weighed, it was about the fact that I put in the effort.

I hadn’t stepped on the scale in a while because I was scared. I know I gained some weight from the way my clothes fit, but I’ve been too scared to get the confirmation. There’s a scale at the box and after the WOD, I stepped onto it. I was curious. That’s all there was. I didn’t feel any pressure of having to weigh a certain amount because I knew I wasn’t weighing in under my normal conditions (empty stomach, first thing in the morning, disrobed, my scale). The scale showed a good amount of kilos more than I would have liked, but surprisingly, it didn’t upset me. No, because it didn’t change anything about the WOD at all. Weighing more than I had hoped for didn’t diminish my effort.

I did some more thinking as I got home. I thought about the scale in my bathroom some more and I realized that I didn’t like how much power it had over me. I didn’t like how it made me feel. It led me to the thoughts above.

The scale doesn’t define me as a person. It doesn’t define whether I’m kind, caring, lovable, empathetic, successful, hard-working, funny, smart, educated, open-minded, accepting or honest. It doesn’t define whether I’m a good daughter, trust-worthy friend or desirable as a woman. No electronic device should ever hold this much power over me.

That’s when I decided it’s time to detach myself from it. I’m not ready to throw it out for good. There’s still some ED in me that wants to hold on to it. But for now, the scale has no right to rule over my life anymore. I reckon the basement is a good place for it until further notice.

10 things that made me happy last week

The last week was busy at work, so I haven’t done the best job at documenting my 10 things  as they happened during the week. Let’s see whether I can remember some moments of happiness.

  • I received some news on Monday that I rather would not have received. Despite being stressed and upset, I did not eat my feelings and dive head-first into cake or chocolate. Instead I acknowledged my feelings for what they were and just let them be.
  • I made it through a really crappy WOD on Tuesday. It was a WOD with double unders. Double unders and I are not friends right now. I’m not great at them, but generally, I can string a few together. Not so on Tuesday. I refused to do the WOD anything but RXed, sucked it up and finished. Even if it took me longer than everybody else. It was great once it was over.
  • I received a handful of compliments on Thursday, when I was wearing my dirndl for a work event. I was glad once I finally got to take off said dirndl. I think dirndls are stunning and make women of every body type look fabulous. But wearing something for hours that pretty much cuts off all the air you need to breathe? Ugh, no.
  • Said work event. We have an annual company outing where part of our company is headed to one of the nearby lakes for a boat tour. We have an entire cruise ship to ourselves, we eat and drink, we dance and party. This year, we headed to Lake Starnberg and it was mad fun.
  • The day after, I was headed with my friends Sylvie and Dirk to Lake Garda in Italy to spend my birthday weekend.  The nasty weather in Munich on Friday made me even happier because I was to get plenty of Italian sunshine.
  • I swam in the Lago di Garda. The water was just the right temperature and so crystal clear.
  • It was my birthday last week and it was lovely. We spent the day sightseeing in Sirmione, where we stayed, drank adult beverages, squeezed in a quick WOD and then had a lovely steak dinner. Lots of people sent me birthday wishes and I generally felt very blessed and loved.
  • Italian ice cream. And wine. And pizza. And pasta. I really do love food. What can I say.
  • I brushed off some Italian and managed at least to order at the restaurant. My Italian sucks, but not having spoken for over 10 years, I was proud by how well I got along.
  • On our way home from Lake Garda, we stopped at some friends’ CrossFit box in Kolsass, Austria, for a WOD, some catching up, lots of laughing, some Ben & Jerry’s. We were greeted with open arms and such warmness. It was wonderful.

What happens in Prague stays in Prague. Kinda.

Last weekend I spent a couple of days with a group of CrossFit friends in Prague. It was an all-girls trip, full of extraordinary shenanigans. You’d think 8 girls being together 24/7 at close quarters would bring much drama, but all there was was plenty of laughter, good times and crazy fun.

I’ve still got to go through some of the pictures I took, but since there wasn’t much sightseeing (in favor of working out and SPA treatments) involved, there won’t be that many to follow.

As my memories are fresh though, here’s a brief recap of our lovely weekend.

Friday

We’d decided to drive by car on Friday afternoon, as soon as we got out of the office. We split up into two cars with the first group of girls leaving a bit earlier and then the second car heading out around 4:30 pm’ish. I still had a client meeting from 2 to 3, so I was glad for the second option and my lovely friend Sylvie offering to drive.

There was a bit of a traffic jam as we left Munich and later on the highway around a giant construction site, but we passed the time just fine. We had good conversation and Haribo gummibears to get us through. Around 10 pm we finally arrived at the apartment, which was located in the district of Praha 2. Gabi and the three other girls, who had left earlier in the afternoon, had already arrived and had thankfully taken care of getting the keys to the apartment and doing some grocery shopping. Much needed! By the time Sylvie, myself, Julia and Julia got there, dinner places had closed. We were very grateful that there was some kind of food in the house.

We spent the evening chatting, drinking wine, cracking jokes, drinking more wine, cracking even sillier jokes until it turned into the kind of full-blown ridiculousness that doesn’t make any sense the next morning once you sober up, but is the best thing ever as blood alcohol is high. It was absolutely wonderful. I haven’t laughed this much and hard in a really long time.

My head was spinning a bit as I lay down to sleep, but it was totally worth it.

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This beautiful image pretty much sums up the entire weekend. Silly fun. Deep belly laughter. ❤ (And the voodoocado. Don’t ask.)

Saturday

I do have to admit that I felt a little queasy upon getting up on Saturday morning. Since I’ve started working out regularly and am constantly on the quest to lose weight, I don’t drink much anymore. So there, you get what you deserve, eh?

To start the day, we had a proper breakfast together: full of eggs, bacon, fruit and veggies, some quark. And the voodoocado. Once we were invigorated, we headed to CrossFit Hometown for a private lesson. Jakub, our super friendly (and handsome!) coach, greeted us and then spent an hour working with us on our snatching technique and then finally guided us through a partner WOD. I really enjoyed Jakub’s coaching. He had a good eye, explained a movement as complicated as the snatch really well and gave great cues and feedback. We had all practiced snatches before, but sometimes, it helps to have a new, neutral person to give you a piece of advice in a way that your regular coaches maybe haven’t. That doesn’t mean any coach is better than the other. Just different in explaining things.

The partner WOD was a lot of fun. At first he said something that sounded like Murph, making everybody gulp and give him the deer-in-headlights look. Thankfully he was joking and our WOD consisted of a 500m run, 50 thrusters @ 30 kg (as a team), 500m run, 30 thrusters @ 35 kg, 500m run and 20 thrusters @ 40 kg. For time. Phew. Julia and I split the first thrusters in 10s each, after that, we went 5 each until we had reached the required amount of reps. 40 kg thrusters are heavy for me, so I was glad when we were done.

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After the class, we went ahead and bought pretty much all the shirts the box had, sitting in front of a pile of shirts like lionesses in front of a dead zebra. It must’ve been pretty hilarious for an outsider to see. CrossFit girls go shopping. 😉

After the CrossFit class we drove to Aquapalace, a large water park and SPA in Prague. We had lunch and coffee there before we headed over to the sauna area to relax and wait for the deep tissue massages we had booked for later in the day. Heavenly!

I’m rather picky when it comes to massages. I like it when they apply pressure. Like, a lot of it. I like it when they dig in because the moment when they finally work out the little knots and spots of tension, it feels amazing. My massage therapist was wonderful. A small-framed woman with a good, firm grip. It hurt. It hurt so good. I hadn’t felt this good in a really long time.

[Even though I felt into a spiral of negative thinking as I was lying on the bench, relaxing and having time to second-guess myself and my existence. It did affect me some into the evening, but I’d managed to snap out of it by Sunday, feeling only just a little bit overly self-conscious.]

After we got pampered and ready, we rushed back to the apartment before it was time for dinner. Gabi had made a reservation at Čestr, a spectacular steakhouse nearby. (I had found the place through Foodspotting, one of my most favorite food/restaurant apps.) The interior was very lovely and service was quick, attentive and very friendly. The entire experience was great, starting with the menu cards, which showed great attention to detail, to the food, which was some of the best we had.

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The menu presentation in itself was worth it. I think all of us took their menus home. We then received a compliment from the kitchen (egg salad on bread), a bread basket and on the right, my lovely homemade orange lemonade.

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I loooooooooove tartare. This was lovely. Then we all got steak with a side (carrots for me), a digestive, coffee and dessert. Isn’t Yvonne’s cappuccino the cutest? The chocolate cake was so decadent and heavy. It was amazing.

The great thing about Prague is that compared to Munich, it’s very cheap. A dinner like this in a comparable restaurant in Munich would have easily cost tripple the amount. In Prague, we had wine, beer, soft drinks, appetizers, steaks with sides, digestives, dessert and coffee. And none of us had to sell our soul or any organs. It was all very affordable.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Sunday

Sunday morning. Oh boy. The biggest challenge was yet to come after breakfast. Pole dancing. Yes, you read that right. Pole. Dancing. Let me preface this with saying I have horrible coordination and very little sense of rhythm. I’m not a good dancer. But I was ready to take one for the team and make a total fool out of myself for everybody’s amusement. I think I succeeded.

Before we headed to class, we drove into the city center to squeeze in some sightseeing. We parked at a big mall and then walked over to Old Town Square, where the Town Hall and famous Astronomical Clock are located. It was crazy busy and challenging not to lose a person along the way as we walked to the crowded Charles Bridge. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time for sightseeing, something I would’ve liked to do a bit more and not quite so rushed. Next time!

The reason for our hurry was said, infamous pole dancing class which started at 1 PM. Our coach was a stunning Polish woman named Bonnie. Damn, that lady was beautiful. If I could swap my body for anybody’s, I’d ask for hers. Beautiful face, gorgeous tattoos all over. I might’ve fallen in love! 😉 And the lady could move.

I was really nervous as we got there because I felt self-conscious about my body, my inability to move said body in any fashion that’s not clumsy. Or the fact that the more naked at pole dancing you are, the better. The giant mirrors didn’t help. Bonnie was a lovely coach though. She showed us a couple of moves and kept encouraging us, giving praise despite our probably funny-looking efforts (we all lacked proper pole dancing skills, though Gabi did a pretty mean job!)

Yes, there are pictures. No, you’re not going to see them. This is the part where what happened in Prague stays in Prague.

The class turned out to be a lot of fun nonetheless. One thing it taught me is that everybody should have a hell lot of respect for pole dancers. I’d say everybody who came on this trip is somewhat athletic. Most, if not all, the girls crossfit several times a week. We’re not weak by any means. And this was hard. You need strength, coordination, rhythm and a high tolerance for pain. I don’t think I’ve ever been in this much pain in my life before! Running two marathons and having several tattoos included.

The key to pole dancing and not slipping off the pole is making sure you have as much contact to it with your skin as possible. Then you squeeze as tight as you can. Even as you spin around and your skin is rubbing against the metal pole. It feels a bit like being skinned alive and is so unimaginably painful. You have no idea. Bonnie mentioned you don’t really get used to it and that it still hurts her, even as she’s been doing this for over two years. This is when I realized that even if I wanted to, I could never be a pole dancer. I just have no desire to train something that’s always going to hurt me. Mad respect.

I do have another take away though:

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I’d have to finally start getting that sleeve on my arms though. I don’t think men would find a bruised up pole dancer all that sexy. O.o

After class we had Bonnie show us some of her moves. This is how you do it.

We rounded off a spectacularly fun trip with a final lunch together at a burger place that happened to be nearby. It reminded me a lot of Five Napkins in New York and was the perfect end to this trip. We then split up into our two cars again and drove home. Drive itself was mostly quiet and uneventful, save for some traffic jams just shortly before Munich.

This whole experience was extraordinary. From Prague as a beautiful city to visit, the fun activities we did, the fantastic energy within the group and everybody getting along so well. I can’t wait for our next trip together!

10 things that made me happy last week

So, I might love this little tradition I started: thinking positive and reminding myself of the good things in life. Here are my 10 moments of happiness from last week:

  • We had a new colleague start on Monday. She’ll play a crucial part in helping us get organized and more structured on the biggest client I work on. A little bit of stability will do us good. But what’s really great is that she’s sharing the office with me (no more sitting there all by myself) and that she happens to be super nice.
  • I received a sweet compliment on the tank top I was wearing for my workout on Monday. ❤
  • I had a conversation with one of my friends and coaches on Monday night and as we were talking about workouts, pull-ups (in particular) and how I seem to be the only one in my group of friends at the box (I exaggerate, but only slightly), who has not completed the requirements for admission to the more advanced level 2 of CrossFit, I caught myself thinking, that maybe I actually don’t need to lose weight and that maybe it would just be easier to accept myself the way I am, including my current weight and imperfections. Instead of stressing over losing weight, maybe I should focus on building strength. Maybe I’m perfectly fine, acceptable and lovable the way I am. (Background info: we have a list of requirements that you need to fulfill if you want to move up to the more advanced class. A lot of requirements are bodyweight-related, i. e. back squat your bodyweight x times. The heavier you are, obviously, the higher your lift numbers need to be. I could probably currently only do the overhead squat and back squat. Maybe the power clean on a good day.)
  • I had another conversation that affirmed me in a recent, important decision I made.
  • More trip-planning anticipation. On top of last weekend’s trip to Prague, I’m headed to Lake Garda the upcoming week to spend some time there with my BFFs over my birthday.
  • Speaking of: PRAGUE! I just returned from an all-girls-weekend in Prague that was full of shenanigans. There were 8 of us. We shared a beautiful apartment, took a great CrossFit class (hello cute coach!), went to the SPA and pole-danced. And we laughed. So much it hurt. ❤ [More to come in a couple of days.]
  • I had a client meeting on Thursday that went really well. At least the part I presented. We had good, productive discussions and I felt confident in my presenting.
  • Also on Thursday, we had several good chuckles at work during an internal meeting where we look at some performance data which we present to the client the next day. One of the girls accidentally called one product by the wrong name (a video game). She said something ridiculous, but none of us other girls noticed, we just nodded our heads, whereas the only guy in the room was up in arms about it. It was pretty hilarious.
  • I know I’m being cared for. I know there are people who give an honest shit about my well-being and who are ready to be there for me when I need them.
  • I squeezed in a quick load of laundry as I got home tonight. As it’s hanging to dry in my bedroom, my bedroom smells all yummy and fresh.

I get to go to sleep now. More thoughts on our lovely trip to Prague some time this week, once I’ve had the chance to order my thoughts and the pictures on my camera.

10 things that made me happy last week

Following last week’s post, here are the 10 things that made me happy during the last week:

  • I made some improvement on my handstand push-up on Monday. I still need to do them onto plates because I’m not strong enough for full range of motion, but I’ve managed to decrease the amount of plates I need for 3 reps (strict). (In case you don’t know what a handstand push-up is, they’re just as awful as they sound.) I’ve also finally figured out the kip and did my first kipping hspus. Given for how long it took me to learn how to kick into a handstand, this is exciting! (I’m extremely uncomfortable being upside down, in fact, each time I kick up into handstand, it usually takes me one or two failed attempts until my head remembers that my arms and shoulders are strong enough to support my weight and I will not fall on my head and hurt myself.)
  • I received a lovely compliment on my outfit from a stranger on Monday. I was trying to drive past Königsplatz, a big square near the office that I need to cross when I bike to the box. It’s often closed in the summer for open air events, but going around is such a hassle. So I approached the security guy and asked if he’d let me through if I pushed my bike. He then complimented me on my jumpsuit (in that non-creepy way) and opened the gate for me to pass.
  • I’ll be spending the first weekend of August with some of my CrossFit friends in Prague and we’re currently finalizing plans. It’s an all-girls’ trip. I’ve never been to Prague and as the trip takes shape, I’m excited for a getaway weekend with my favorite ladies, full of spa treatments, working out and good food.
  • Tuesday night’s publisher event. It was epic.
  • It’s been a little quieter at work this week (and the last weeks). It’s nice to be able to leave the office somewhat on time and be able to workout an hour earlier in the night than I usually do.
  • I spotted a hedgehog in Olympiapark on Wednesday. You obviously don’t see those often in big cities. When I told one of my colleagues about it, he mentioned a website by the BR (Bavarian radio broadcast) and LBV (an environmental conversation group) where you can submit your sightings and then scientists will conduct a study about the health of hedgehog populations in Bavaria. I submitted my sighting and spent a good amount of time going through the data on the website and learning more about hedgehogs. Unfortunately, it’s only in German, but you can visit Igel-in-Bayern here.
  • On Friday, I even spotted another one!
  • The barista at work drew me a heart on Friday.
  • I did my first ever CrossFit workout with pull-ups using just the thin, red band for assistance. The pull-up is my biggest frenemy and progress on it is sloooooooow. But I’m making progress. We did a 10 minute AMRAP of 1 pull-up, 2 push-ups and 3 air squats. During warm-up, I try using as little band as possible to keep challenging myself and work toward building strength. But during the workout, I don’t think my coaches would appreciate it if I took three times as long as everyone else to complete a For Time workout. So I use a little stronger band that’s still challenging. Earlier this week, there was not going to be any bad outcome if I used the lightest band possible. All that was gonna happen was less rounds for me and a hell lot of pride!
  • Good conversations. That’s all I can cryptically say at this point, but I started into the weekend with a good, productive work-related conversation that leaves me hopeful for the future. I see a light at the end of the tunnel and a very positive change ahead of me.
  • I had another great workout on Friday. We did 30 rounds for time of 5 wallballs, 3 push-ups and 1 heavy power clean. I didn’t think I could complete it with the RXed weight within the timecap of 35 minutes, but I did. And I was superstoked!
  • My dirndl still fits. We have a work event mid-August and we’re invited to come in Tracht, i. e. traditional clothing like a dirndl or lederhosen. I put on some weight and since a dirndl is supposed to sit tight, I was concerned it would be too tight. Thankfully, it’s just tight.
  • I called my telephone provider to ask about additional perks. I’m currently with Telekom for both mobile and internet/landline and in the past, they had offered an additional discount if you got all of their services. Turns out there’s no discount anymore but they give you a free data stick for surfing with your laptop/tablet on the go (usually 10€ monthly fee), an additional flat rate when making calls with your landline, LTE prioritization for your mobile (5€ monthly fee) and finally, next day delivery if you ever need your cell to be replaced. All of that. For free. That’s pretty sweet.
  • I texted a friend I made during my stay at the rehab facility. I hadn’t spoken to her in a while, mostly because I’m sometimes horrible at getting back to people I don’t see every day. I’m awful at responding. With her, I hadn’t responded in a long time. To the point where I was so guilty that I was scared she’d be mad at me. But I texted her and her response was the sweetest.

Definitely more than 10 things that made me happy, eh? It’s been a rather good week.

What about a little more faith?

Not the religious kind. But the kind where I actually believe in myself.

This week showed me again, that even though I sometimes don’t see it and everybody else around me seems to be that much better at CrossFit than me, I am making progress. I still have more than enough blatant weaknesses (hello, pull-up!), but even those are slowly getting better. As this week in CrossFitting showed.

On Monday we practiced handstand push-ups. Not my most favorite movement, to be perfectly honest. I’m not strong enough to go full range of motion, so I need to use a stack of bumper plates to shorten the way. But my stack is getting smaller and I’ve finally managed to get in a couple of kipping handstand push-ups. In the past, I had a difficult time figuring out the mechanics of the kip. Not this week. I might’ve had a little epiphany.

On Thursday we snatched, where I felt a lot more comfortable in my technique. I ended up cranking out 5 single reps just under my 1 rep max (not the prettiest, but valid reps). I’ve been practicing the snatch during the box’s open gym classes and also during the olympic weightlifting class that’s offered on Friday night. I feel like it’s finally paying off.

After snatching, we did a 10 minute AMRAP of 1 pull-up, 2 push-ups and 3 air squats. The pull-up is another movement I have spent a lot of time practicing over the last few months. I suck at it. My lat is too weak or I’m too fat. Probably both. I just cannot pull myself up to that fucking bar without the assistance of a band. It frustrates me beyond belief. I’ve been CrossFitting for over 2 years and everybody who started with me is now doing or practicing chest to bar pull-ups or even muscle-ups, where you have to pull even higher, whereas I still can’t get my stupid chin over that bar. It’s not for lack of effort. If there’s one thing I always practice, even if it’s just a handful of reps, it’s the pull-up. Hm, not weighing a gazillion of pounds would probably help.

But anyway, even if you may not believe it after my little bitchfest, I do see some progress on the pull-up. This week, I completed my first workout using the thinnest band possible. We have a bunch of rubber bands at the box that you hook a foot into and then it’ll help you up through resistance. The thinner the band, the less help you get, obviously. Over the months, I’ve been decreasing the thickness of the bands, but I still need them. In workouts, I pick a band that’ll still give me a challenging workout, but enough support for me to complete the WOD in a reasonable time. I doubt my coaches would appreciate it if it took me 45 minutes to complete a WOD that’s estimated to take no more than 10 minutes, just because I have to rest forever after every single pull-up. During warm-up and my own additional practice, I’m down to the thinnest band I can because I have time and I try to prioritize quality over quantity. Rather fewer pull-ups, but more difficult in order to force myself to continue building strength. With the red band, I can do exactly one, then I need to rest before I can do the next. Just perfect for this week’s WOD. I figured I’d give it a try, even if it meant I’d get to complete less rounds in total during the 10 minutes AMRAP.

I was surprised how well the workout went, despite the pull-ups clearly being the limiting factor for me. Now if only I’d manage to lose 5 kilos…

The biggest highlight of this week though was yesterday’s WOD: 30 RFT of 5 wallball shots, 3 push-ups and 1 power clean. With 50 kgs (=110 lbs.). Yeah. I’ve mentioned before that the power clean is a relatively weak lift for me. I currently max at 55 kgs (ca. 120 lbs.). So the prescribed weight of 50 kg isn’t exactly a lot under my max. For 30 single reps. We had a timecap of 35 minutes and I honestly was doubtful I’d be able to complete the WOD within the cap. That’s how much respect I have of that weight.

Nonetheless, I wanted to RX the workout because I need to challenge myself with heavy weights, even if it means not finishing in time. I’m not the strongest, but I’m not a weak woman either. A lot of weight limitations for me are mental, because I get scared. As soon as I’m at or near my max, I lose focus. All I can think of is how heavy the weight is and all good technique goes aboard.

I’ve been practicing the clean with (for me) heavy weights at higher rep schemes to get comfortable with lifting a weight repeatedly that’s challenging for me. While still focusing on good form. I finished the workout under the timecap. No problem. It was hard, but I lifted the 50 kg 30 times with only one miss. I was pretty fucking ecstatic afterwards!

This week has shown me a couple of things:

  • Progress happens. Even if you can’t always see it or if it isn’t linear. Being impatient won’t speed up progress. Sadly.
  • A little faith goes a long way. You might be surprised if only you believe you can. Like that pull-up workout. I decided it was worth a shot and I’d just do what I could. The result more than surprised me.
  • Practice really does make perfect. Or at least better. This week showed me that there is a big benefit in working your weaknesses, even if that’s not always fun.
  • Above all, I need to focus on myself. I need to stop comparing myself to everybody else and be jealous of their progress. Their progress is theirs. Mine is mine. And mine is all that should matter to me.

Diving into the world of beauty

I’m not a girly girl. I have to admit. I’ll wear skirts and dresses, but I honestly don’t care much for make-up or a lengthy morning or bedtime beauty routine. I probably should, but I just find it impractical and so time consuming that I never do it. Sad as it is, my bedtime routine consists of brushing my teeth. C’est ça.

But when I’m offered free treatment, I’m not gonna say no. As silly as it makes me feel. 😉

One of the perks of working in media (it doesn’t just have downsides!) is that occasionally, we’re invited to cool events through our business partners, like parties, dinners, sporting events, movie premiers or beauty events. Last night, me and a bunch of my colleagues spent the evening at Beauty Style, where, after a small snack, we learned about skin and the importance of skincare. We also learned about what you should look for when you buy cosmetics, which ingredients to avoid and which products you should use and how often. The owner of the store sounded a bit like a teacher or a cult leader at times, but overall, it was a fun event and the treatment lovely.

Before we started our own treatment, we got to enjoy these amazing hats to cover our hair. This alone made the whole thing worth it:

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The ladies were clearly digging it!

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We then received a bunch of equipment to get started. I had no idea what we were doing. Thankfully, we were instructed by the cosmeticians. Clean first. Eyes and face. Tonic (not the stuff you drink – where’s the gin, by the way? but the stuff you put on your face). Peeling. Wash off. More tonic. Mask. Let it sit on your face forever. In the meantime, hand peeling. Wash off. More tonic. Minerals. Cream. Then, more cream. This time for the hands.

One thing our cosmetician couldn’t stop stressing was the importance of tonic. Otherwise, none of the creams you put on your face will actually enter your skin. Peel, but don’t peel too often. It’s fine if it starts itching a bit. Your skin is working. A-ha. (Insert skeptical noise here.)

As someone who doesn’t care much for these things, I was more amused by this whole event and how seriously some women take cosmetics. To me, it was all about being a dork for a couple of hours (it was a couple of hours, I think we left around 9 pm, after getting there at 6:30 pm) and doing silly things. Like this:

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(Separated at birth: La Muerte vs. Me – I’ve actually been considering getting another tattoo, a sleeve either featuring La Muerte or a lion. But that’s another post for another day.)

Anyway… my skin does feel a little softer now and I feel like I look at least 10 years younger. 😉