May 20, 2013 - Baby Steps to Fitness    3 Comments

Failing Miserably

As you might have read in my previous post, I started a fitness challenge on the 15th, and it turns out that I have to hit the reset button and start over.

I REALLY hate to fail, so I’m looking at this as a brief hiccup in the ultimate plan.

Why have I hit a speed bump?  Well . . . it’s my own fault.  Here’s where I screwed up . . .

Failure to plan.  Dre’s going to say “I told you so.”  She warned me that I would need to plan my meals for the on days.  She wasn’t kidding.  I know that I’m a haphazard moody eater, and I’m also an infrequent eater by nature, and am accustomed to eating only once or twice a day.  Six is a bit much, although it can be done.  However, in order for me to eat every three hours, there has to be a mechanism in place that supports it.  And by that, I mean that the meals need to be prepared and ready to grab.  While I love to cook, cooking 6 tiny meals each day is not a good plan.  Or a realistic one.  I need to set myself up for success.

Soreness.  I’ve been good about the exercise portion (relatively).  Dre’s classes combined with my in-home routine have made me extremely sore.  I used to absolutely LOVE that feeling of soreness after a good workout, and now it’s an annoying impediment which is making it difficult for me to forge ahead (or walk).  I realize that it’s important to continue exercise to work out the lactic acid, but with the way my thighs feel, I have no motivation to do squats.  Not a one.  Of course this is just me being whiney, but I’m going to have find a solution. Or perhaps it will just go away over time.

Love of wine.  At risk of sounding like a wino, I always find myself in social situations where having “a glass of wine” seems to be the focal point.  I’ve managed to slip up on my on-days, but the good news is that I’ve been able to nurse one glass of wine throughout the entire event on those days.  Probably not a tragedy in the grand scheme of things, but definitely not the best way to allocate calories.

These aren’t insurmountable problems.  I just need to do better.  WAY better.

Onward and upward!

May 17, 2013 - Baby Steps to Fitness    No Comments

Fitness Challenge — Comments from the trainer

As promised, I will be documenting the fitness challenge, and I would like to introduce Andrea Nichols-Everett, aka Dre of Dre’s Diesel Dome, as the creator of this challenge, and the person who will be whipping my ass into shape.

Here’s Dre, and her comments about the challenge and my current state.  She’s a little hard on me, but I suppose it’s warranted.  She has a hot body because she knows what she’s doing.


Over the past year or so, Gina has complained to me, over and over again (I’m just saying ), about her weight and has wanted to “lose a few pounds and tone up a few spots” on her body. So when she finally asked me to help her accomplish this goal, I was super excited because I have been dying to help her become satisfied with her body once again.

The Baby Steps To Fitness program, which will be available to the public in September 2013, is a program I created to help people slowly get acclimated to an active, fit and healthy lifestyle. It’s a program for people who have never worked out or lived a healthy lifestyle and it is also for people like Gina, who have previously lived a healthy lifestyle but have fallen off track. I think most people desire to live a healthy and fit lifestyle but they either don’t know how to get started or it seems so unattainable that they decide that it’s just easier to be unhealthy. The Baby Steps To Fitness program adopts a “start low, go slow” approach to healthy eating and exercise so the participant will be able to make small lifestyle changes over time until they reach their goal.

While on The Baby Steps To Fitness program, Gina will be eating a clean diet of high quality foods at around 250 calories per meal every 3-4 hours (5-6 small meals per day) which will stabilize her blood sugar levels and make her body a fat burning machine. We chose every other day because she is new to this and I want her to get comfortable with adjusting her lifestyle around these changes. On the days she is off the plan, she is not allowed to gorge on “bad” food but she will not be as regimented on her “off plan” days. She will also workout at least 3 times a week at my gym in Chicago: D3 Dre’s Diesel Dome Fitness, LLC and she will complete short online workouts at home as well.

Gina is very fortunate because she has fantastic genes. She is naturally muscular, has a relatively low fat percentage, and has a smaller frame. She is also aware of all the advantages of working out consistently because she has been a consistent participant of exercise in the past. Gina is unfortunate because she hates to work out and she LOVES pizza! My challenge is to help her see that exercise can be fun by getting her into classes that she will actually enjoy. So far, she has taken my Turbo Kick class which is a dancy kickboxing class and thank goodness, she actually liked it. She will be taking at least 3 classes a week at my gym and my goal is to keep her engaged and excited about her workouts! As for the pizza, she can have a slice on her off days but can’t eat the whole pie, as she usually does !

I know I have my work cut out for me with Ms Bee, but I am sure by the end of the challenge she will be where she wants to be and if not, I may jump over my balcony…head first! Love ya Gina, see you at D3!

May 12, 2013 - More positive posts    1 Comment

Changing Some Habits

I’ve always glamourized the concept of journaling.  I have multitudes of beautiful little blank books, and when I buy them, I always have romantic thoughts of my little book perched on my nightstand with my beautiful pen (generally a fountain pen with purple ink), where I scratch out my thoughts in perfect penmanship on a nightly basis before falling into a thoughtful deep sleep.

As you might imagine, this is not what happens.

Instead, what happens is that I buy the book with ambitious good intentions (further paving my road to hell), and then I struggle to find a thought worthy of inclusion. (I realize that I shouldn’t be intimidated by an overpriced leatherbound journal, but here we are.)  When I finally find something profound to say, I’m further disappointed because I have the handwriting of a serial killer, and instead of the gorgeous script that I imagine, it comes out looking like something that’s included in a trial as a part of a psych eval.    My scribble, however, was in purple ink — oddly the only thing that was in line with my expectations.  Which is discouraging.  I abort mission.

UNTIL I’m in another store that sells beautiful journals, and I think that all I really need is a fresh start with a new book.  So I suck it up, and eagerly buy another one.

(Am I crazy?  Absolutely!)

While cleaning out my office closet the other day, I discovered no less than 10 pretty blank books, each with 1-5 paltry pages of written content included.  I haven’t bought one in a long while because blogging has taken over.  Blogging is far more convenient, and even though it’s far less private, it doesn’t involve my handwriting.

There is a common thread between journaling and blogging.  I only either journal or blog when I’m distressed, whether that’s work, life, relationships, etc.  If anyone were to read my blogs to get an accurate impression of my life, they would think that I was an angry person who has a LOT of run-ins with customer services bureaus of any company that I come in contact with.   Okay, so I admit that I can be a bit acerbic, and I DO have a penchant for customer service run-ins, BUT I don’t blog when I’m happy because I’m too busy enjoying life to document it.

So, as a challenge to myself, I’m going to try to blog more frequently, and when I have positive things to report.  Don’t fret . . . there will always be rants (because this IS the Rantspot, after all), but there will be other blogs to counter them.

For my first topic, does anyone else love Pinterest?  I’m an addict, and believe that Pinterest does what the concept of bookmarks and favorites originally set out to do.  But with sharing.  If anyone is interested in my inane posts about home decor, and my snarky original ecards, feel free to check out my Pinterest page.  I’m just getting it off the ground, but it’s been fun so far.

Also?  I’m starting an 8-week fitness challenge on the 15th with my good buddy Dre, of D3 – Dre’s Diesel Dome.  Am I crazy?  More on that later, but I will chronicling it on this blog and ChicagoNow with Brown Chicks.  Feel free to follow me.


Feb 15, 2013 - Vacay    2 Comments

Cruise Chronicles – The Old Man and the Sea

The last few days have been interesting.  Lee and I have been fascinated with the number of old people on this cruise.  When we embarked on the ship, we caught a glimpse of several with walkers, and a few with IV drips.  But being here over the last few days, we’ve had a chance to observe the entire landscape of the boat, and we’ve determined that the median age of Cruisies is roughly 60 – which even takes into account the multitudes of children that are running around.

The Sea Geezers, as I’ve come to call them, are a special breed of Cruisie.  They’ve been on several cruises and enjoy rolling their little scooters up to the poker table where they will post up for hours, spending their retirement funds on hand after hand.  They’re also very aggressive in the buffet lines, where they become scrappy over pieces of bacon and “good looking sandwiches.”  I’ve nearly been taken out by Sea Geezers on wheels, although I’m never in competition for those items (given that I hate the buffet, and there’s nothing there worth killing anyone’s great grandfather over)

We spend most of our time in the adults only section, lounging in one of the hot tubs while waving at one of the servers to fetch us drinks.  Not a bad life.

And just so that everyone is clear, I’m NOT on the famed Sewer Cruise.  Thank God.

Feb 11, 2013 - Vacay    1 Comment

Cruise Chronicles 2 – DM me for pword

We’re still at sea.  If you’ve never been on a cruise before, walking around feels like you’re on an airplane that is experiencing slight turbulence – or heavy turbulence, depending on how rough and choppy things are.  This has been a choppy trip thus far, and I find myself walking like I’m drunk (even though most of the time I’m not).

Lee, who was in the Navy, is devoid of sympathy and keeps reminding me that he took a cruise for several years.  Pfft.

So far, the bane of Lee’s existence is the PA system.  Every so many minutes in the morning, there is an announcement that Bingo is starting, or that everyone should meet in the deck for some sort of activity that we’re not planning to participate in.  All of these announcements interrupt Lee’s slumber, which is a problem.  Have I mentioned that he put the Lee in Sleep?

The bane of my existence?  The buffet!  I protested yesterday when I could no longer take eating a variation of the same food for the third meal.  Lee likes it because he could eat leftovers every single day, and it’s easy to grab.  I hate it because I’m somewhat particular and abhor foraging for my food unless I’m grocery shopping and about to cook.  We’re committed to higher quality signature restaurants for the remainder of the trip.   Which will keep me away from the ice cream machine and dessert selection.  I’m sure that Lee will pout at some point and convince me to revisit the buffet.  I’m sure I’ll cave in.

We jumped in the hot tub with a couple from Minnesota and a family from Brazil.  We were happy to see each other because it’s nice to find more young adults on this trip.  We were fortunate enough to choose the cruise that is comprised of 1) a group of grammar school students, and 2) an elderly group of farmers/fertilizer salesmen (no, I’m not kidding).  I’m not sure which group is more annoying.  I’m not partial to the sound of screaming children, nor do I care for moving behind a herd of slow almost-retired people from South Dakota and Nebraska.

The good news is that this ship is SO large that we’ve yet to see the same people twice.

Also?  The people on this trip LOVE to gamble.  The casinos are clogged at any time of day with people catching “the fever” on the roulette wheel, and cautious gamblers who are spending hours at the $0.05 slot machines.  I’d generally prefer to keep my money in my pocket, but the blackjack table is beckoning.  Almost as loudly as the ice cream machine.  One of them is going to make me its bitch before this trip is over.

We tried our first signature restaurant for dinner last night.  Oddly we chose a steakhouse.  Even though neither of us partake in red meat, steakhouses usually feature amazing seafood.  This one didn’t disappoint.  But the cool thing is that if you order a bottle of wine and don’t finish it, you can either have them save it for you, or carry the remainder around the ship with you.  I preferred to take it with, and walk about the boat like a wino who could take a swig at any moment.  Cause that’s how I roll.

In search of more young people, we dropped off our bottle in the cabin (to add to our growing collection of alcohol) and proceeded to Bliss, the onboard nightclub.  It was a fun extravaganza of people watching.  The Cruisies crowded the dance floor when Gangnam Style was played, fist-pumping and seizing. (What I would love?  Is if we translated that horrific song from Korean to English and determined that the lyrics were something like “I’m cashing in on you stupid Americans and your lack of musical taste.”)  We were perplexed by the unfortunate 21-year-old black guy with the white man’s overbite.  We were also taken with the older man (whom Lee dubbed Ricardo Montalban) who was clearly outpartying his significantly younger date, and singing along with We Found Love in a Hopeless Place like he was getting paid.

All the while, Lee was critiquing the DJ (surprise, surprise).  The verdict is that he had pretty good blends, even though his top 40 selection was for shit.

Today?  More hot-tubbing, laying out, poolside drinking, laziness, and Second City!


Jan 27, 2013 - Rants    3 Comments

People will eat anything . . . .

I’m a particular eater.  I don’t eat red meat or processed foods.  I don’t drink soda.  I stay away from rich cream sauces, and if it weren’t for my love of cheese I would probably forego dairy altogether.   I’m not thrilled about genetically engineered or modified food or ingredients, and if it can be left on a shelf indefinitely or concocted from a strange powder in a packet, I steer clear.  I can’t help thinking that fake meat soy products are a very, very bad idea.  I don’t eat Chinese food — largely because I watch too much Dateline.  My favorite foods contain 5 ingredients or less.

Sure, I can be annoying, but I like to know what I’m eating.

That said, I’m always amazed at the people who will stick things in their mouths and ask questions later (you can take that any way you want).

Let me be clear . . . I’m not a perfect eater (because if I were, I wouldn’t be in a constant battle with my thighs).  One of my guiltiest pleasures is frozen yogurt.

Now . . . there are many problems with fro-yo.  It goes against all of my food sensibilities.  It emanates mysteriously from a silver machine. God only knows what goes into that machine, and how often it’s cleaned.  I try to determine the ingredients, but I’m usually far too enamored with the possibility of Red Velvet Cake mixed with Cookies and Cream to employ my usual diligence in deconstructing the ingredients.

Honestly, if I really wanted to be a frozen treat purist, I would go for ice cream.  But ice cream, while delicious, is too rich and makes me nauseous.  Fro-yo it is.

I’m in Miami Beach for a while, tagging along with the boyfriend while he works on a TV show.  I can think of worse places to be than South Beach in the first quarter of the year.    I’ve had to learn the city and find favorite spots, which would be more fun if the food quality in Miami were higher.  I’m a Chicagoan, and since we have nothing better to do in piercing cold weather than entertain ourselves with good meals, our restaurants are usually incredible.  The food isn’t so great in Miami, which is probably why everyone is, on average, about 20 lbs lighter than the typical Chicagoan.

I was craving frozen yogurt the other day.  I saw several people shopping on Lincoln Road with what appeared to be cups full of frozen yogurt complete with yummy toppings, and I set myself on a mission to find yogurt ground zero.

Finally I found a place that resembled one of my favorite spots in Chicago.  It was called Tasti something-or-other.   The only issue was the product. It resembled frozen yogurt, but it wasn’t advertised as frozen yogurt.  Nor was it advertised as ice cream.  Given my pickiness, I began to question the salesperson:

Gina:  So . . . is your product frozen yogurt?

Salesperson:  No

G:  Okay.  Is it ice cream?

S:  No.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

G:  Hmmm.  Is it dairy?

S:  I think so.

G:  Okay, so let me get this straight . . .  what you’re selling isn’t frozen yogurt, nor is it ice cream, and it is dairy — although you seem uncertain about that?

S:  Right

G:  Well, since you’re so great at telling me what it’s not, would you mind telling me what it is?

The salesperson points to a large poster on the wall.  The content on this poster was virtually useless.  I learned that the unknown substance was fewer calories than ice cream and contained fewer grams of fat.  Whoo hoo!  I learned that the company is dedicated to making a tasty, creamy product.   Fabulous! The company even touts the use of natural products and no artificial sweeteners.  Yippee!  Okay, so WTF IS it?

They lost me with the phrase “perfected in the lab.”  Which means that even THEY don’t know what it is.

Essentially it’s Faux-Yo!

I took a pass, but as I watched the multitudes of people who mindlessly shuffled in, asked no questions, and shoveled an unknown product into their mouths, I wondered if anyone bothers to question what they eat.  Or does everyone assume that if it’s sold in a retail outlet it “must be okay.”  Because that would be the very wrong assumption.

There is very low quality-control with foods that we buy from restaurants.  They have to meet health code requirements, but other than that, as long as they’re not killing people, anything goes.  It’s scary, if you really think about it.

I challenge everyone to REALLY think about what you eat on a regular basis, and then tell me your craziest guilty pleasure.

Thanks for reading!



Dec 16, 2012 - Unfit godparent    1 Comment

The Anti-Parent


Have you ever met that person who just isn’t cut out to be a parent?


Fortunately I’ve never wanted to be, and maybe if I had have, I would have taken the time to develop some of the maternal traits that currently aren’t present in my being.  Like picking up a baby, changing a diaper or quieting a crying child (without the use of a pacifier, bourbon or duct tape) or the general use of good judgment.

Believe it or not, I do have godchildren, which is always amazing to me because I’m not the best influence.  In fact, I’m probably the most adult person that I know.   I have been ever since I was a child.  I don’t understand the way that kids think, I have no language filter, I have zero interest in kiddie movies or Disney, I’m not appreciative of the noise or messiness, I’m deterred by bodily functions, and I’m always terrified that I will say something that will put them in therapy for their entire adult lives.

Of the four godchildren, there are two that I haven’t seen in a while, mostly because one is far away, and the other is usually extremely busy with her huge natural family.  I feel guilty because of this, which is saying a lot because being raised by a Catholic mother has desensitized me to guilt.  But I digress . . .

The remaining two — the 12 year old boy and 16 year old girl —  have always been my little appendages as little adults in their own rights.  They have been trained to me, and they know and accommodate many things about me.  They’re aware that I have road rage, a fluency in profanity, and they know not to repeat anything I say.

Fortunately, their parents actually get a kick out of the things that I tell them that no adult in their right mind would share with a child.  Did I mention that I have no filter?

We had brunch today, and here are the topics that we covered:

  1. Why Auntie Gina sometimes needs a cocktail
  2. What “proof” means when it comes to liquor (to my credit, their father who was also present, helped with that one)
  3. How sugar and liquor together is usually a bad idea
  4. The order in which one consumes wine and hard liquor (I went all physiological on their asses)
  5. The circumstances under which marriage is a good idea
  6. What is a prenuptial agreement, what it protects, and why it’s smart to have one


Bad, right?  But the good news is that I countered the corruption with a few good lessons:

  1. Why a car is not an asset
  2. The total cost of ownership of a vehicle
  3. Why it’s stupid to own a luxury vehicle without having given thought to purchasing a home, which is an asset, for the most part
  4. How to think proactively about college selections

All of this in less than two hours!  I’m more effective than an online university!

Is there any wonder that the 16 year old gleefully refers to me as the “anti-parent?”  (I earned this title last year when I told her that one of her little friends might be a bit of a slut and is not to be emulated.)  She would like to drink with me on her 21st birthday.  I’m not sure if I should be proud or mortified.

In the interest of full disclosure, I called their mother as soon as I dropped them off today to share the topics of our brunch.  She laughed, because she’s used to me, and told me that she would provide me with a list of things that she’d like for me to teach her daughter before she goes off to college.

The good news is that they don’t take me seriously . . . against all odds.

Dec 1, 2012 - Rants    5 Comments

Grocery store rant

When I die, I want to be reincarnated and come back as the BF.  Since we started dating, he has managed to foist several unpleasant activities onto my plate, and I, for some reason, have willingly taken them.  I will admit that some of them have been for selfish reasons — like if I let him put things away in my kitchen, Lord only knows where half of them will end up. Or, if I send him to the grocery store, I’m pretty sure that half of my coveted items will be omitted.

The grocery store has become the bane of my existence.  Inner city grocery stores are typically a combination of comical, pathetic, and treacherous.

When I lived on the Gold Coast, the famed “Jungle Jewel” on Clark and Division was my shopping option.   It was a socioeconomic nightmare and a haven for street crazies.  Every time I braved that store, I felt like wearing camouflage and combat boots. I couldn’t even tune out and put on headphones while I shopped, because it was important to be on guard.  Someone tried to run a “lost wallet” scam on me there once (I didn’t fall for it), and a dirty guy exposed himself to me (I suggested he take “that thing” to the produce section).

Now that I’m in a different ‘hood, I shop in the South Loop Jewel for pedestrian items and visit Whole Foods for specialty fun stuff.  This Jewel isn’t nearly as bad as the Jungle, but still has its trappings.

For example, I always seem to end up with the “mind of its own” basket.   I know to avoid the lone basket because I’m certain that it’s left for a reason (similar to that one seat on the crowded bus that nobody wants for fear that the smelly man in the adjacent seat is afflicted with chiggers), so the frequency with which I happen to choose a ghost basket that meanders to the side or stops defiantly without warning or provocation, makes me think that at least 50% of the basket population is defective.  If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would accuse Jewel executives of taping shoppers and watching the footage of us struggling with the metal torturers on wheels for their comedic pleasure.

The entertaining aspect of Jewel is the greasy-haired special Chinese stock guy who is clearly OCD, wears coke bottle glasses, steamrolls customers, and emphatically repeats what must be the only English phrase he knows:  ”I’m so berry sorry.”  (If you shop there and see this man, take my advice and do not — DO NOT — ask the location of any items.  He will either fly through the store at breakneck speed to show you, or he will say something that you’ll never understand.  Either way you’ll get a headache.  Trust me.)

The other odd thing about this Jewel is that if you leave your basket unattended for one minute, the workers will abscond with it and start reshelving your items.  Somehow, the very basket that you’ve been struggling with can be whisked away in an instant by an overzealous Jewel employee.

But, the piece de resistance for me is always the self-checkout line.  I love the self-checkout line.  I use it when I’m in a hurry, don’t really want to have conversation with the cashier, or when I’m buying an embarrassing item.  Which pretty much means that I use them exclusively unless I have a full basket.  (Oddly, the BF hates the self-checkout line because he says that they’re taking the place of real people and reducing jobs.  My point being that if he were that damned concerned about inflating the economy, he should visit the store a little more frequently and reinvigorate it himself. )

But here’s what I hate — when people who don’t know what they hell they’re doing use the self-checkout line and slow down those of us who are experienced, well-oiled machines.

There are rules.

1.  Count your items.  If you have upward of 20 items in your basket, please use the regular aisle.

2.  Prepare. This means have your loyalty card ready to scan BEFORE arriving at the machine.   Beulah, who is lethargically manning the self-checkout station, is not going to expediently dash over to scan her card for you.  She will, in fact, arrive with disdain simply because you made her move.  People behind you will want to throttle you.  Just have it ready.  Also, if you are an extreme couponer, have them ready to run through, and don’t summon Beulah when your $0.50 coupon only impacted your bill by $0.40.  She really won’t care.  And neither will the people behind you.

3.  Avoid buying alcohol while in this line.  While I realize that your 40 ounce can of malt liquor will make or break your evening, having to call an attendant to check your ID or retrieve it from the cage actually undermines the premise of a FAST lane.

4.  Understand the concept of a bar code and know your limitations.  If you don’t understand the concept of scanning an item, or if your dexterity prevents you from quickly running said bar code over the scanner, move to the regular aisle.

5.  If you have something from the produce section that needs to be weighed, there are two things to know:  a) what it is, and b) how to spell it.  You’d be surprised at how many times Beulah gets called to discern between oranges and clementines.

5.  Have a bagging strategy.  I’ll admit that I’m a bit anal about this.  I put like items together in my basket, so that the bagging process can move smoothly.  For example, all of the frozen and refrigerated items are together so that they’re quickly put into one bag.  There was a woman today who spent about 10 minutes post-purchase making sure that the Lysol wasn’t near the apples and that neither of things were near the tampons.  I get it, but damn!  Organize!

6.  Move out of the way.  Don’t stand there post-purchase pondering your receipt while others are salivating to occupy your machine.  Also, don’t leave your basket lingering around.  Oh, and if you have a stroller and a basket, don’t scowl at others who are scowling at you because they can’t get through.

If anyone else has grocery store woes, I would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading!