I Am That Girl Now

Monday, March 27, 2006

I am so happy, I could bounce around like Tigger

I love April, and it hasn't even started yet. Not only do I get to take two different classes from the lovely Chicago Parks District, but as the weather gets warmer, the option to jog outside rather than inside opens up. Which is important, since we're most likely going to have to sell our treadmill rather than alienate a set of downstairs neighbors with the thumpita-thumpita noises early in the morning.

Here's the part where my cup runneth over with goodies: my Hub, when faced with the idea that I would be switching to outdoor running (an idea that makes him very nervous, because Chicago can be dangerous for a lone female jogger), decided that if I jog outside, he's coming along with me. He has decided to be my running partner.

I could cry, I'm so damn happy. It's what I've always wanted. Wheee! Of course, the proof will be in the pudding, and in this case it very much remains to be seen how we'll do as running partners. Could go either way. I've got better stamina and cardiovascular health, but his legs are longer and he's proven speedier on short distances. At any rate, I'm jazzed about the idea and can't wait to get started.

My Hub has also come up with the idea that we should use the money from selling the treadmill to buy a new piece of in-home exercise equipment. (Clearly, we didn't end up getting the home gym.) We're thinking that a stationary bike machine would be a good idea, since it's good for cardio on non-running days and since it would give us a cardio option on nasty weather days when we really don't want to go outside, and since Chicago has many of that kind of day. Engaging in this kind of discussion with my Hub fills me with great joy. He's exercising. He's been at it steadily for almost a month. This is friggin' phenomenal.

In other news, we are most decidedly moving, and are paring down the unused possessions. I've put ads up on Craigslist for various things, but if anyone in the Chicago area wants a scale, media shelving, kitty scratching post, round kitchen table, TV cart, red folding chairs, a size 6 peacoat, home theatre system (the speakers and the control unit thingy), or a full-sized mattress (no box springs), let me know, and I'll cut you a deal. I'm hoping to raise money with the selling of such things to cover part of the cost of the movers.

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Friday, March 24, 2006


When I get stressed, my eating goes all to hell. The other night, for the first time in a long time, I ate cheesy popcorn and ice cream for dinner. Shortly thereafter I remembered why I do not do that because (oh, the humanity) I had terrible gas throughout the rest of the night. Lovely.

I mention all of this because my eating is a pretty good barometer of just how stressed out I am. By such measurements, I was headed off the charts the other night.

The great Do We Or Don't We Move This Year Battle may-- I stress may have come to a close, with me as the marginal victor. My Hub is not pleased about this; he doesn't want to move and he's one of those laid-back dudes who doesn't really give a rat's ass what the place is like, as long as it's in a neighborhood he likes, has good train access, and has enough space for his stuff. Closet space and layout and good windows and water pressure and having enough electrical outlets are just things he'll work around if they're not up to snuff; they don't count enough to prompt him to move to find something better. This baffles me.

Anyway. Long story short, he's got the bit between his teeth now and he's started packing everything in the entire apartment. I was sort of afraid he was going to pack me. He was very cranky, but intent on proving that he was going to get behind this process, dammit.

He's in a better mood today, but oy, now I have to find a great place. I've got one place scheduled to look at tonight, and-- so far-- three tomorrow. I really want to get an apartment found before the end of the month. Happily, now is when all the listings are coming up for May, so that's good timing. Once we get a place nailed down, then I can start running down my list of utilities to change over and all that jazz, and the post-packing cleaning and so forth can happen, too. I don't like to leave much to chance where the deposit is concerned (another issue which my Hub disagrees with me on, but he's not going to stop me from filling in the nail-holes with spackle, dammit), and I'm hoping to keep the damage we're charged down to, well, the terrible things that our cats did to the blinds. (Cats and blinds are not good friends. Mental note: next apartment, protect blinds from cats immediately.)

So. Adventures on the way. Send good vibes and any prayers you have lying around

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Well, that sucked.

I brought up the idea of moving when I was talking with my Hub on Friday. We fought about it for pretty much the whole weekend. Oy.

I don't know if it's a failure on my part to beat it into his head or a failure on his part to pick up on it, but until I sat down with him this weekend and spread out the whole financial situation, he just didn't get it. He hadn't grasped that the reason I'd cut back our grocery budget was to be able to afford the new life insurance, or that part of the reason I'd become a vegetarian was to make that new grocery budget possible. The funny thing is that he then trotted all these things back out when he was trying to convince me that we had plenty of money, after all we were saving money on food...

It was kind of funny to see the lightbulb go on over his head, but I honestly wish he'd put two and two together before that moment, because it would have saved us two full days of aggrivation. I could have sworn that I told him was was going on at the time, but either he forgot or I was trying to keep a cheerful face on things just a leeeeettle too much.

So, the apartment hunt is on. It'll be the first time we've moved, besides moving in with each other, so this will be interesting, to say the least.

In other news, my Hub came up with a "beef stew" recipe last night that uses portabella mushrooms in place of the beef, and oh, my, it's good.

First he took about a pound of portabella caps and cut them up into aprox. 1-inch-square pieces. Threw in a tablespoon of butter (yeah, yeah, I know, but it's for flavor) and a tablespoon of olive oil (lowering the smoke point) into our stock pot over medium-high heat, let the butter melt, and then threw in the mushrooms to let them get all brown and lovely. He chopped five cloves of garlic and one large onion, and threw those in, too. Once everything was getting a bit translucent, he threw in two cups of stock (veggie, in this case, but use chicken or beef as is your preference), 1 1/4 cups of red wine, a 28-oz can of chopped tomatoes, some rosemary (about 1/2 tsp) and thyme (about 1/2 tsp), and salted that bad boy up. Let that simmer for about ten minutes, and then tossed in about 1.5 lbs of potatoes (in this case, fingerling potatoes that were chopped up into bite-sized pieces) and a bunch of Lacinato kale (he says, FYI, that collard greens would work equally well). It simmered with the lid on for another half-hour or so, and voila: stew!

I baked a bunch of small loaves of bread to go with it, and we're set for lunch for the week. Also on the menu: Country-Style Tomato & Potato Stew with Poached Cod. An ingenious recipe because my Hub and I can only eat one fillet of the whitefish we got (which we used instead of cod because, well, ya use what ya got) and it has a "morph" recipe attached that lets you use the leftovers to make stew-- and since we had one whole big fillet left, I just stripped off the skin, broke it into chunks, and used that rather than dig in the freezer for alternative meat or non-meat-product. This has fed us for something like four meals, I swear. It's awesome. Add on a salad and/or some fresh-baked bread, and it's even more awesome.

I currently have bread-starter sitting on my kitchen counter. This may be a bad idea. Dunno. If anything blows up, I may have my answer. Alton Brown has yet to lead me wrong, but I'm not sure about this one.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A bit of a quandry.

There's a lot of good happening of late: my mouth is healing nicely, my Hub is coming to terms with not feeding me meat, and he's also continuing to chug along the C25K plan. Very, very, very good things.

On the down side, I'm pulling my hair out over finances.

I'm currently working on the budget, and I've got everything in a nice little Excel file. Post-taxes, we're putting 15.28% of our income into savings, 9.08% into insurance of some kind or another, 18.33% into debt-payment, 4.17% into food, and 35.55% into rent and utilities. (Those of you keeping count will note that there's a bit over 15% left: that is to take care of absolutely everything else.) I'm kind of pulling out my hair, because we've reached the point where we have no more wiggle-room. We've cut our "everything else" budget down over the past few months, we've cut our food budget in half. And yeah, it's enough for right now, barely. Problem is, I'm trying to think ahead, and I can't see any way that this budget would be able to handle us having a kid.

And Jesus, this is just me thinking about a baby, much less looking ahead to school and camp and saving for college. I have been assured by many people that "you manage, somehow," but "somehow" is not the answer I'm looking for. I have to figure out how.

The big item on the chopping block is our current apartment. I love our neighborhood, love it dearly, but the hard facts of the matter indicate that we're going to have to squeeze about $200/month more out of the budget, and rent is the biggest expense we've got, and there are rumblings that the rent is going to go up this year because the neighborhood's taxes are skyrocketing. If the rent goes up, we absolutely cannot stay. If we need to move, I'm thinking that we're going to have to find some kind of absolute steal in terms of rent, or find a cheaper neighborhood. And frankly, finding a cheaper neighborhood with easy El access and a decent reputation is not a simple thing.

I'm frustrated. If it was just me, I know exactly what I'd do: I'd find a cheaper neighborhood and if it meant I had to take a bus to get to the El, so be it. I'm trying to figure out how to open this up for discussion with my Hub, and I'm just no good at this. I'm such a sucker for him.

Anyone know any decent neighborhoods in Chicago where we could get a good 2-bedroom apartment for under $900? (The closer to $800, frankly, the better.) I only know a few neighborhoods in person, and this whole thing is kicking my ass.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Some good things do happen.

I can now button a pair of pants that I couldn't button last week, and I appear to have lost a few pounds, so the fact that chewing exhausts me seems to be working out in spite of the few times that I've given up entirely and turned to ice cream for dinner. On the occasions that I do eat things that require chewing, it takes so long to chew them with my front-teeth-only technique (and, as I said, it's on the exhausting side) that I quit eating the moment I'm no longer hungry.

Dieting through oral surgery, folks. Nothin' like it.

I have, however, put together a comprehensive list in my PDA of all the foods and other items that we go through on a regular basis, including spices and cleaning supplies and toiletries and so forth. Next step: pricing all this stuff at our usual stores. I have to admit that I've never had a list of this nature before. Honestly, back when my Hub and I moved in together, I was boggled by the entire concept of having to figure out what groceries to buy so that we'd have things on hand to cook with. It's probably indicative of how far we've come, this list, because it's honestly what we use, and we have a pattern, and all of it. It's... nice.

My Hub has been eating granola for breakfast lately, having realized shortly after he started exercising that he should probably have actual fuel in his tummy before lunch. He keeps contemplating this out loud, the fact that he's been eating vegetarian chili for lunch and granola for breakfast. He says he's not complaining, just trying to work through this new reality in which he eats and enjoys such things, and exercises. Heh.

He's decided that TVP is a good thing, after being extremely suspicious of it early on, because-- and I quote-- "it makes this chili like the chili from Wendy's, and that's a good thing because chili from Wendy's is awesome." Hilarious.

It turns out that I have a knack for chili. It cannot be denied. Three different diet plans' worth of chili, and all of them have turned out great. I'm also capable of making very good tomato sauce. It's baffling. I will repeat the fact that these things are baffling, because nobody in my family knows how to make either of these things worth a damn.

My Hub intends to make beef stew, except with portabello mushrooms instead of beef. I am very much in favor of this.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The day is a pain.

I've lost my CTA card and will not be able to get a replacement for three days, which blows. This is very embarrassing. I've never lost a card before, not ever. I'm trying to plot out some way to attach the new card to my purse, in order to keep from losing the damn thing again.

My teeth hurt. I admit it. I spent all of yesterday denying that I had any pain, which resulted in a big tension headache that made me nauseous. My Hub finally sat on me and insisted that I had to take a pill, so I did, and magically felt better. The one problem is that the pain pills knock me the righteous hell out, so I lost the rest of the evening and I'm dragging around today. I really want to take another one, but then I'd fall asleep at my desk and be fired.

Also, I have to release some tension here. We didn't get laundry done this weekend. By which I mean that my Hub's proposal that he would do laundry himself did not occur. Granted, there was a lot going on this weekend, but the end result is that we do not have clean clothes. My Hub then decided that we'd do laundry Monday evening, which didn't get done because he had insomnia Sunday night and was too exhausted to do anything.

I'm in an odd spot here where I want to yell at him about this, but I don't think I could deal with the resulting sad-puppy look. I'm also not certain that I get to use the "I just had oral surgery" card anymore, since it's been four days, which means that I'm probably going to end up doing laundry with him, and I don't feel up to it. All of this means that I'm pretty grumpy, and I feel like I'm owed free laundry, but I don't feel up to demanding that my Hub do the laundry by himself. Grump, grump, grump.

I really just want to take some days off, but I've taken something like four days off already this year and it's just ridiculous. Bah. Nothing good here.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

An update:

My Hub at lunch, re: the vegetarian chili:

"You know, this isn't too terrible."


"Really, it's pretty good."


"I have to admit that I like this a lot."


"This is fucking fantastic."

I feel like I ought to take a bow.

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Glacial change will win every time

My Hub's ex-wife and I were chatting the other day (we're all still friends; long story) and I explained one of his more cryptic comments by revealing his new jogging thing.

Long pause. "Jogging?"


"You're kidding me."


"Good grief, what have you done to him?"


I have tried like crazy, throughout this whole health and fitness thing of mine, not to push rules on my Hub. I'm fine with him eating fried chicken and ice cream and drinking full-sugar soda. I was fine with him not exercising. It is absolutely, 100% his business... well, okay, it's my business, but it's his decision. I swore that I would not nag, and I would not force anything on him. When it comes to cooking, whatever I make has to be taste-friendly even if he's dubious about the ingredients (occasionally, as in the case of the cake made with sweet-potato puree, extremely dubious), because if he won't eat it, it really defeats the purpose of feeding him healthy things.

It helps that my Hub is a man of omnivorous tastes and an open mind. He'll give anything a chance, and if it tastes good, he'll accept it whole-heartedly. I've seen (and heard) him give the same amount of estatic attention to a juicy pear as to steak or bacon. He doesn't get hung up on brand names and he's been easy to convert to organic produce when he discovered that it was tastier than what we'd been getting from the regular supermarket. A real Renaissance man when it comes to food, my Hub.

Since I started the first phase of my healthy-living lifestyle, my Hub has slowly changed his cooking style and some of his food preferences. He's looked on it as a creative challenge, I think, but beyond that, I think that it's more a case of changing the local state of normalcy. Over time, it's become normal for us to have vegetables and fruit with our lunches. Over time, it's become normal to cook with very little oil. Over time, it's become normal for us to walk across the Loop as part of our morning and evening commute. Over time, it's become normal for us to take the stairs instead of the escalator. The thing I've noticed is that we're more likely to stick to something if it's the only new thing introduced at that time, and if it's a small change.

When I was first starting this blog, I had it in my mind that I was absolutely going to have to change everything about my life, and I was going to have to do it in a big hurry. I was half right. I am going to have to change everything about my life, but it's going to have to come step by step, and the main challenge isn't gritting my way through a thousand changes at once, but to keep up a continuing, long-term dedication toward the goal of a life where the normal state of things will keep me healthy.

In a weird way, keeping things going long-term, trusting myself to have a long-term when it comes to healthy living, is utterly terrifying. I have a long history of short-term attempts at diet and exercise. I had it figured that I had to get things fixed before the time limit ran out, and so when I'd get the nerve up, or get desperate enough, I'd push like mad until I was exhausted by the whole thing, thus fulfilling my own prophecy of the time limit. The next time, I'd have my assumed time limit set by the length of time I'd made it through the last time, and so I'd subconsciously plan accordingly, thus making my new attempt even more extreme-- and thus setting myself up for an even shorter time limit. Even worse, I had it assumed that the extremity factor was something I had to do, because otherwise time would run out and I'd still be fat and out of shape, and in-between attempts that would make it exhausting to even consider trying again.

The change is being able to trust yourself to keep taking those steps, I think. When you don't trust yourself to be able to take the second step, it makes it seem ridiculous to even consider a series of small steps; it makes it seem like you absolutely must do everything at once. And after all, the small steps seem so useless on their own that it really makes it feel like you're not accomplishing anything.

Take heart: it does work. It takes longer to get there, but it is much less scary, it's a lot easier, and it lasts. I'm as surprised as you are, and believe me, I'm still scared at some level that each step isn't going to be the last. I'm getting less scared, though, that it's all going to go away. I'm starting to believe that what I already have can last, and that the structure is strong enough that adding another little thing won't make everything collapse.

I think, in a way, my Hub starting to make changes like this is evidence that the slow and steady approach is a more attractive lifestyle choice. It's something that hasn't scared him off, and each change has been gradual enough to win him over. And I'm not going to worry that if he doesn't start exercising like a crazy man and officially changing his diet or whatever then he won't become healthy; of course he will. Step by step.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Never say never

My Hub got up this morning before I woke up, and he did his session of C25K. He got done shortly after I got up, and came in all sweaty and glowing and proud of himself and oh, my. Sweaty manly man. Rawr. You know, he's always saying that I'm sexy when I get done exercising, and before today I thought he was just saying it to make me feel better. As of today, I believe him, because oh my goodness did I find him sexy.

My Hub is quite proud of himself, and I'm pretty damn proud of him, too. Yay!

In another surprising development, I made vegetarian chili for our week's meals, and my Hub tasted it and declared it to be "pretty freakin' tasty". For a man who scorned the chili I used to make because it had both meat and beans (apparently real chili, in his mind, is purely a meat-based product), this is astonishing. Granted, I also baked a lot of little loaves of French bread to go with it, as sort of a bribe, but apparently he likes the chili just for itself.

I also attempted a cake made with pureed sweet potato. It actually came out pretty well, albeit more along the texture of brownies than cake. When I told my Hub what I was baking, though, he just looked at me woefully and said, "I'm trying very hard to be supportive, you know that, but sweet potato cake is just plain wrong." He did, however, try it later and decided it was tasty. "I'm still not going to call it proper cake, because it's not. But it's good."

I was chatting with my Hub's ex-- who's still a friend of ours, it's a long story-- and mentioned the chili and the jogging. She just blinked at me in astonishment for a long moment, and then blurted, "What have you done to him?" It made me laugh like a crazy person, because, really, I haven't done anything to him. I'm just doing my thing and occasionally he decides that my thing looks like fun. (Okay, not so much "fun" as "it doesn't look as torturously hard as I thought it was, and maybe I could handle this, so I'll give it a shot".)

I will take this opportunity, however, to pump my fist in the air and say yesssss! I'm occasionally shallow and catty, and moments like this are prime moments for a bit of shallow, catty preening.

In tooth news, my mouth hurts. I will say that it's astonishing how much slower I eat when I'm having to chew carefully with my front teeth. It occurs to me that I might have something to learn from this experience, but at the moment I'm just so tired of the whole thing that I can't get around to learning a damn thing.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ow. Just ow.

I have four holes in my mouth where my wisdom teeth used to be, and my mouth hurts. All is well, by the standards of such surgery, but my standards go along the lines of "intact mouth with no ouchie holes in it" so it's not great by what I'm used to.

We have gorgeous produce that I can't eat. My Hub, who is a lovely man, bought a ton of frozen fruit and has been making me smoothies, but smoothies for two straight days for every meal is a bit too much of a good thing. Tomorrow we're going to try scrambled eggs and potato soup, albeit not at the same time. Something that resembles real food would be good.

I was doing pretty well for most of today. Now I'm just so tired, and so sick of not being able to do what I want to do, that I'm sad. My Hub keeps trying to convince me to stay put and rest, and I keep fighting him, but the thing is, he's right, and I'm just pretending that he's the only thing keeping me from going out and doing my normal weekend things. If I was really up to it, I wouldn't let him stop me; I never do. I know better. Grrr. It's all very frustrating.

To add to the fun, there's another conflict brewing among my group of friends, and this just never goes well. I've got my little space defined with everyone, and then they start fighting with each other and I have to work my ass off to keep from getting pulled into taking sides.

Life just never sits still when you need it to, does it?

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.

I've been with my Hub for years now, been married to him for just over a whole year, and only yesterday did I really figure out that we do, actually, fight. We just do it strangely. We get all the grumpiness and the pissiness and the anger, but we're both avoiding an out-and-out fight so it's a passive-aggressive anti-battle, both of us furious and stewing in our own juices. Then eventually we decide that we're done fighting, we kiss and make up, and then discuss the actual issue at hand. It's like we separate out the discussion from the fight, which I suppose is good in a weird way, but the actual fights make for a crappy day.

By those standards, we had a pretty good brawl yesterday. My Hub was tired; he hadn't gotten much sleep due to some insomnia, and work hadn't helped cheer him up at all, as work is a pain in the ass. When he's tired and grumpy, he becomes terribly indecisive when it comes to food, and often takes refuge in some form of carb + cheese + tomato sauce combination after spending a few hours trying to talk himself into something else.

Now, there are some excellent things that would work for that, which also meet the "no poultry, no red meat" standards of Vegetarianism For Beginners. Pasta, grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetable-topped pizza; all things which we have had in the past and enjoyed. Instead, he got mired in the fact that some of his options had been cut off, and he got cranky. Then he got pissed off.

It took me a while to remember my therapist's advice that when my Hub gets cranky, I don't have to panic over fixing him, so for a while I was kind of panicky. Then I got mad. We had a very grumpy ride home, long periods of sullen silence punctuated by a brief session of snapping at each other. Just lovely.

Eventually we realized that we were fighting, not just grumpy, and we got over ourselves and calmed down. It took a few hours, but it did eventually happen. Strangely, I felt a lot better about things once I realized that it was a fight; it put the evening into a context that I could understand, instead of trying to fit it into the "making each other sad" context I'd had it in originally. I think it's because when he's sad, I feel a responsibility to cheer him up, but if we're fighting, feeling a responsibility to cheer him up only makes me more pissed off because it goes against my own interests in the situation. Realizing that we were fighting took away that perceived responsibility, and relieved a lot of the tumult in my head.

I'm making a mental note about this for next time. Honestly, if we'd just taken the gloves off and gone at it, without stewing about trying to take care of each other while we were fighting, the fight would have been a lot fucking shorter.

Anyway, the point being that he was throwing a fit about me going vegetarian, even though a) I told him that what I said originally still holds, and that if he wants to have meat a few times a week, that's fine, and b) he refuses to "screw things up for [me]" by cooking meat. He doesn't know what to cook for me, which is fucked up, because there are hundreds of things that we've eaten over the past few years that don't involve poultry or red meat. Not to mention that we have a great deal of fish in the freezer. He was feeling lost in the woods and very put-upon.

I, on the other hand, reacted to this badly because the last time I tried something new he completely froze in place and waved his hands helplessly and said he was too scared to feed me and get it wrong, and nothing I could say that time could convince him otherwise, and the stress of having to do all the cooking for months on end really wore me down. There is no way in hell that's happening this time, because I feel like I'm bending over backwards to help him out and make the transition slow and easy, and even though I don't like fish very much I will eat the damn stuff just so he has a go-to protein that he already knows. (Er, I may still be a bit cranky about that.)

So. Fighting happened. We still haven't got it all sorted out yet, and there are probably more fights in the future, but we'll get it figured out in the end.

In other news, my Hub did the second session of C25K this morning. He was, as he'd warned me on Tuesday, grumpy about getting out of bed, and grumpy pretty much until he hit the shower after he exercised, and then he was fine, and thanked me for my help, and admitted that he did, in fact, feel more awake and invigorated after exercise than he usually does in the mornings. (He was originally more of a morning person than I was, until I started exercising, and then the tables turned. I suspect that this was a combination of losing the last vestiges of my teen years and sort of re-setting my inner clock.) He's been fairly chipper ever since.

He reports that the second session of C25K is "slightly less painful than last time", and is preparing himself to do his own motivating on Saturday, when I will be unavailable for motivating him out of bed. I designed him a longer-term C25K program, but he found the first week's part to be insultingly easy compared to what he was already doing, so he ignored it and kept doing the set program.

(If anyone wants my version of the C25K, I will gladly send it to you in a happy little Excel sheet. Just send me an e-mail at iamthatgirlnow@gmail.com. It's about 32 weeks long and very gradual, meant for folks who might find the 9-week version intimidating, and includes a what-to-do-at-what-time breakdown for those with treadmills, a count of the total minutes walked and total minutes jogged per session, and the percentage of minutes jogged to total workout time-- not counting warm-up and cool-down, of course. I set it up so that you get one more minute of jogging every week.)

So, we're having a bit of a rough time of it. We'll figure it out in time, but in the meanwhile we keep hitting potholes in the road. Ah, well.

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