Made of Stars

Did any Northern Hemispherians catch the lunar eclipse on Saturday night? Gareth and I went down to the beach to watch it. It happened to be our wedding anniversary (two years!), so on paper that just about sounds like the most romantic thing ever. But it was freezing cold we had to stay inside the car and ended up with severe neck cramps from tilting and turning in our seats to try and get a good look at the bloody moon. And then a big cloud came along and hid the whole show.

What we did see was beautiful and incredibly humbling. Normally the moon looks so undefined and distant, but during the eclipse it looked properly three dimensional, like a giant golf ball that you could reach out and grab. I’ve always loved having a good gawk at the moon; it gives you great perspective. For all our busy lives and crazy dramas and struggles, we’re all just wee specks in the universe. Isn’t that comforting?

. . .

Yesterday I wanted to throw my bike into the canal. I just had a really shit ride. I’ve been so full-on with my exercise this week and methinks I’d got a bit over-enthusiastic. My first interval session was intense and totally fried my legs. Then I’ve been doing some killer weights. I felt like a change so I did Cathe’s Slow and Heavy, where you do a 2-down-6-up rep count with the heaviest weights you can manage. The Legs & Shoulders was particularly gruelling, I was shakin’ like a shitting dog, to use a favourite phrase of Gareth’s.

By Wednesday my legs were knackered but I was scheduled for another round of intervals. I knew I wouldn’t make it so thought I’d do a quick easy bike ride to let my legs recover, just the wee 7 mile (11.3 km) loop on the cycle track. Gareth came out with me, but took off into the distance for the 10 mile (16km) route that he does during the week, just a quick blast of a workout when he hasn’t time for longer rides.

So. It sucked! There was an innocent-looking breeze but it felt like riding through molasses. Normally I can coast for long stretches but I was pedalling hard the whole time. At the halfway point I had to stop for a drink and a sook.

I was sooo slow on the way home. There were people WALKING faster than I was riding. And I had to stop twice more because my quads felt so bloody weak. I was even yelling at my legs at some point, "Why. Won’t. You. MOVE!?".

And the final insult was when I limped over the finish line, Gareth casually wheeled past me having finished his route, the longer one with all the hills and stuff. ARRGH.

I calmed down with a cup of tea, for there will always be days like that. Something can feel ridiculously easy one day but feel like the Tour de freakin France the next. Especially when you’re shiny new to this cycling palaver. So I will carry on and rest my weary legs today.

. . .

I really miss that dog. It’s ridiculous to miss something you only knew for a few hours, but I do. Actually, it’s more the idea of the critter that I miss.

I used to have a dog back in Australia, and I was a terrible parent. I should have rescued an aging, immobile lump from the shelter to match my own fitness level, but I fell for a hyperactive mutt that I called Harry. I’d take him for a walk and he’d pull on the lead, gasping and gagging, and I’d think, "That little bastard, why won’t he heel?".

Now I can admit that of course strained at the leash – he was bored out of his tiny little skull! He wanted to run! He wanted to sniff things! But I couldn’t shuffle for more than a few blocks without needing to find a park bench to recover. I still feel so guilty for being such an unfit mother. He deserved someone who could carve up the pavement and walk for miles.

I remember one time Harry escaped and ran into the church graveyard across the street. This was in 2000, when I was at my very lardiest. I chased him as fast as I could, which was extremely un-fast I can tell you now. By the time I got there he was pinging between the headstones, nose to the ground. I did not have the physical ability to run after him, so I called his name. But he ignored me. Instead he sauntered over to a headstone, where a family of mourners were placing flowers, and PEED ALL OVER IT. I didn’t know which was worse; the shame of him pissing on the grave or my complete inability to do anything about it.

I found a new home for Harry not long before we moved to Scotland and even though I was much fitter by then, I was so glad to see his new Mum was very fit and active. I still wish I could call up that hound and apologise for those couple of years when I was so rubbish for him. I just know if I had a dog now, I could do so much better! I could do things right! I’d love to have a four-legged excuse to go outside. We could walk for hours and throw sticks and I could crash tackle it before it had to the chance to lift a leg in an inappropriate place. Someday, someday.

Harry
C’est Harry!

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34 thoughts on “Made of Stars

  1. Omg Shauna, you are breaking my heart. I had the same thing happen with my dog. She was a fox terrier and I had no idea how energetic they are when I got her. Plus she was so super smart and always into mischief but I think mostly because she was bored. I gave her away and she’s escaped from various homes cos the Lost Dog’s Home still have my number and they call me. Every time I go to a park and see a fox terrier, i check if it’s her and sometimes when I’m running I think how much she’d have enjoyed it.

    She never did anything quite that naughty but one time she ran away and caught the train. I got a call from the other side of the city.

    Do you think that its not just the weight thing? Cos dogs pick up on feelings and our attitudes and if we’re not feeling good about ourselves, we can’t muster the authority to be a good dog owner.

    Sometimes too, I think she was in my life to teach me something that I only learnt after she was gone because she’d have been the best personal trainer.

    Enough of my dog rantings.

    Oh and the best thing about a lousy bike ride is that the next one will be tops. Well it’s like that with running so I assume bike riding is the same 🙂

  2. kathryn, that was such a great comment…

    and you’re right, it’s not just the weight, i didn’t have the authority either. i let him walk all over me! i feel guilty for that too, i was one of those bad pet owners you see on Dog Borstal! i don’t have many regrets in life but would love a do-over with harrypup.

    (i can’t believe your dog caught a train. that is so cute and hilarious 🙂

  3. Hey Shauna! I too learned I can’t ride my bike if my legs are tired from too much exercise. I normally ride my bike to work (7 miles 1 way) in the Spring/Summer but if I do a Firm tape the day before forget it. I can’t ride at all. I always think bike riding is easy or something but it isn’t when your legs weight lifting. So I so know how you felt! Sounds like exercise is going really well for you though. That is AWESOME! Tonight I leave for my trip thanks for all the info!!!!!

  4. Hiya Shanua,

    Don’t worry! I ride bikes a lot (in fact, I’m a certified ‘bike trainer’, in Edinburgh, if you ever feel the need for such a thing!) and it still happens to me – after along ride or serious gym session, my legs turn from strong little things into wobbly jelly.

    And wind is evil. Hills are easy compared to wind, it just saps all the strength out of you. So don’t worry, you’re not alone! And don’t throw poor Valentino in the bin…

    oh, and check your tyres are pumped up hard – riding on soft tyres is a million times harder.

  5. Shauna, you must have a dog. Once I got one, pretty late in the game (I was 31) I just couldn’t understand how I EVER lived without one. I love, nay, adore, nay, worship my dog so deeply it scares me sometimes (luckily, my hubby shares the same level of passion for him, so it’s ok). He’s also an awesome dog, handsome, well-behaved, happy, loving, the whole shebang. We both agree we’re better persons for having him. And sure, there’s the walking and exercising and all that, but really, it’s the companionship, the love, the shared moments, the overall level of well-being that having a dog gives you. Just do it, you won’t regret it (just one piece of advice: make sure you get a dog trainer, they’re worth every single penny and more).

  6. Isn’t it amazing how critters get down into the deepest part of your heart and stay there for ever? I still think about every animal I ever owned and miss them all.

  7. aww cristina, sounds like you have a goodun there. i would get a dog if we could but we have no yard. i couldn’t have one and keep it in a poky wee flat. hopefully someday we’ll live somewhere bigger 🙂

  8. O Man, I got tired from reading your post, ..and i was so proud of myself for going to the gym yesterday…for the first time this week..sheesh…

  9. Wait, you mean the reason you don’t have a dog is that you don’t have a yard? If that’s the only reason, you might want to rethink it. I keep my girl Stella, a medium-hyperactive mutt in my own “poky wee flat” (I call it “The Shoebox”), and it’s great because I’m forced to go outside with her at least three times a day. If I don’t give her a long walk at least every other day she lets me hear about it.

  10. btw gillian, thanks for your comment! a bike trainer, eh? i may have to call you if i can’t manage a hand signal soon 🙂

    flora – stella! that is a great name for a dog. STELLAAA! STELLAAAAAA!!! i should have mentioned the other reason we don’t have a dug – we’re not allowed to have em in our flats, d’oh!

  11. Great post as ever. My dog is also called Harry. He’s a gem. You get attached to them so quickly. We got a second dog once and it didn’t work out so we returned her after two weeks, I cried for days! Keep up with the bike riding – you’re doing brilliantly.
    Oh and I got a Cathe DVD on your recommedation – she’s a monster!

  12. I was so jealous of my best friend – she had a gorgeous corgi named Popeye, but he was the laziest bugger I’ve ever seen.

    Actually, I lie. He was the SECOND laziest bugger I’ve ever seen. Who was the laziest? My friend, his owner! How I do believe that dogs pick up on their owners feelings/attitudes. How they respond, I guess, depends.

    We took him for a walk once (they have a beautiful park at the end of their street), and it took my friend half an hour to find the lead since it had ‘been so long’ since she had last walked him (O_O) and then 2 minutes down the line, my friend sat down, dog followed, and both began to whinge. Not impressed!

  13. Ohhh Shauna, I am so incredibly puppy clucky too… I know how you feel mate! I wonder if maybe Fudge was a sign… I little reminder of how nice it is to have a little bundle of craziness in the house and a sign that maybe you should get one? ;o)

    xoxo

  14. Aw, you will definitely get a dog again. I have two cats now, and they are amazing… I’ve grown up a lot since I had another cat years ago that I had to give away. She never felt like MINE (she was 4 when I got her) and I blamed it on my health, and not being able to take proper care of her. But now, all these years later, my MS is much worse than it was back then, yet I have the two cutest, friendliest, good-natured, adorable kitties and I take great care of them. It’s totally my attitude about myself that has changed, and that energy is projected on to them. I’m sure of it!

    Anyway, you will have an amazing dog someday because you are an amazing person!!

  15. How do you stay so motivated? How do you find the time to work out so much and cook food at home? I used to be in such a good routine, but a lot of things in my life changed and I am having trouble keeping that same routine going. Especially with Exercise. I used to not have a commute to my last job and I could also go home for lunch and eat really healthy, but now I commute about 1 hr each way and I can’t go home for lunch. Do you have a long commute? How many hours a day do you have to work? Just curious and hoping to find some inspiration from someone as dedicated as you. Thanks!

  16. Quick question, Shauna: what did you EAT before your bike ride? It may have been that your legs were just knackered from your weights workout, but I’m familiar with that “why won’t you MOVE?” feeling, and it usually happens when I’ve burned up all my glycogen stores. My poor muscles have no fuel left to burn – no wonder they won’t go!

    Make sure you eat a meal with plenty of carbs (NO, not chocolate. Or pizza.) before you go, and take a bottle of Gatorade (maybe 300-500ml for a short ride?) as well as your water. A couple of glugs of the sweet stuff and your legs get a second wind pretty quickly.

    Happy cycling! 🙂

  17. cheers, legends 🙂

    kek – i’d had eggs with grilled toms and mushies and grainy toast for brekkie, and carrot & butterbean soup for lunch. hmmm. maybe not enough? i did feel rather… unfuelled!

    susie – hiya there! you didn’t leave an email so will prattle on here and hope you come back to see it 🙂

    how do i find motivation? i dunno, i am truly a slug by nature. so i have formed more an exercise habit, so it’s not so much about needing to motivate myself as it just being something that’s part of my day.

    i just try and adapt things to fit to whatever my schedule is like at the time. it’s changed a lot over the past six years but i always manage to find a way with a bit of trial and error. my commute has varied – back in oz it was ten minutes walk to work, here in scotland it’s been just over an hour each way of trains and walking.

    for me losing weight is mostly about getting organised more than getting motivated. i’ve always wanted to shift the blubber but don’t always get set up to actually do it. so it’s a little bit of forward planning that makes the day-to-day so much easier. it’s been little things like —

    – planning meals a week in advance.

    – buying groceries online (saves time and only order what i need as opposed to what looks yummy in the supermarket 🙂

    – laying out gym clothes the night before so no running round (leading to excuses) the next day

    – keeping a stash of healthy food in my desk (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, tins of soup and tuna, cereal) so no excuse to go to the vending machine

    – doing High Intensity Interval Training for the bulk of my cardio – it gets results and it’s only 20 minutes at a time, I can commit to that without going insane 🙂

    – do a lot of my workouts at home – fitness DVDs, a few dumbells kept under the bed, a rubber resistance band – cheaper and no excuse not to go outside in winter, plus no ‘commute time’ to a gym

    – walk as many places as possible

    – keeping our meals very simple and quick to cook. weight watchers cookbooks are fab for simple tasty recipes.

    – i always have lots of easy and lazy ingredients like frozen vegies, tinned beans, eggs, etc on hand so you can zap together a quick meal if feeling lazy (omlette, frittata, stir fry etc etc). also making soups on the weekend for the freezer, cooking extra rice so you have some for your lunches, etc etc… just wee timesaving things to make it less stressful

    – i think about next day’s lunch while cooking dinner. make it easy for yourself – make extra so you can reheat leftovers, or throw together a quick salad while cooking the dinner (it’s amazing how quick you can get at chucking together some salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, carrot, cucumber, whatever stray veg you have into a container). then come lunchtime throw in a can of tuna or beans out of your desk, or have it with some soup or a leftover baked potato or stick it all inside a pita bread.

    so it ends up not really being so much about motivation as it is a wee bit of planning and having things organised so that it is easy to do things in a healthy way. obviously i don’t get organised all the time, otherwise i would have got to goal long ago 🙂 but once you do get that routine going it’s more of a habit than a chore!

    btw i realise having no kids and a low-maintenance husband must sound like an advantage, i know everyone’s circumstances are different. it is tricky finding something that works!

    if i am barking up the wrong tree maybe send me an email? cheers!

  18. hi dg,
    I am a bit of a lurker and thought I’d come out of the woodwork to say hi!

    I am in the habit of using bloglines so forget to comment- naughty me!

    That dog pic is so cute! I had a dog when I was a kid, but like you, was too unfit to walk/play with her properly the poor little thing!

    Ash
    🙂

  19. I remember Harry. Now if I recall you sneaked back to get a last look at him before heading off to Scotland. Why don’t you go buy yourself a wee puppy? You know you want to. 🙂

  20. Hmmmmmmmm – you NEED to get a dog, find a flat that let’s you have one!

    M and I have a belgian (which is a medium-sized dog, about 40 pounds) and is a great running/biking partner… she’s energetic when we need her to be, and when we need her to be lazy, she is that too! *laughs* (she gets out lots in the winter but summers are our active times)….

    There are websites which can find the perfect dog for you… jack russells are insane dogs, too hyper and crazy crazy… different dogs for different needs. There are couch potato dogs, active dogs, dogs for small flats, dogs for large ranches, dogs for people who don’t want dog hair, dogs for people who um, well – you get the picture!

    Can you get permission to have a dog in your flat?

    As someone else said, is a good way to get out of the house…

    and, if you and garth are as weird as M and I are with our dog, we actually give her a “voice”…. 😀

    She sounds a bit raspy, swears a lot and is pretty intelligent too… a wide vocabulary 😀 (others do it too, I found out, so I don’t feel so weird anymore)

    Get a pup! Get a pup!

  21. I agree with those who say get a dog! In the US, we have lots of groups who need foster homes for abandoned or troubled dogs. (Of course, this is because we have a horrible animal overpopulation problem.) Perhaps there are similar groups in Scotland where you can at least test-drive having a dog for a bit to see if it might work.

    I wouldn’t worry so much about the size of your apartment. I have three large dogs (115#, 75#, and 55#s) and work from home. As far as I can tell, the only real movement they do is in the morning and at noon for food and toilet and when we go for our walk in the evening. The rest of the time, they sleep, just like cats. I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually sleep MORE than cats.

    Also, I love the blog–I’ve been a longtime reader, but have never commented.

    I think you can definately get a dog in an apartment, but get one that is a low-energy/apartment type of a dog, NOT a jack russell (high energy) or collie (high energy) or dalmation (higher energy) or such.

    Get a puppy–there’s nothing like puppy love.

  22. Shauna! I don’t know if you saw this food science programme a few months ago, but DO NOT REHEAT rice! When rice is reheated a lot of nasty bacteria is activated, making you ill.

    I, too, find that making exercise a habit is much more effective. I am currently trying very hard to encourage myself and Neil to adopt a routine that becomes habit. And I’m also trying to eat more healthily (except at dinnertime, which I don’t prepare, and Saturday, which is Junk Food Day) by planning the week ahead as well.

    I think you’re on the right track, and you look great anyway. Maybe one day we can go cycling, for I am not so great at it either, and Neil and Gareth can power on ahead while we sweat and complain from behind.

  23. hey there andrea! i have been eating reheated rice for years and years
    and never once been ill. it’s not the reheating that’s the problem so much as when people don’t cool it down quickly before sticking it in the
    fridge, or leaving it sitting out at room temperature for yonks. if i
    have leftover rice, i rinse it with cold water to get the temp down
    quickly then once it’s cooled, whack it in the fridge and always use
    it the next day, piping hot! 🙂

    Here’s some official advice from the New Zealand govt and the UK govt.

  24. Hi … thanks for the link … I SO agree with you about the lunar eclipse – humbling, and SOOOOOOOO beautiful

    Joanna
    joannasfood.blogspot.com

  25. Shauna! I could never live without an animal of some sort (see pics of the wee Yorkie we live with now on my blogsite) — I just have to have that innocent love in my life. Plus, he’s paper trained, so he’s fine on the 47th floor Chicago condo. The balcony is “outside” to him. 🙂 I admit that owning him has limited our choices in regards to apartments, vacations, nights out, etc. But, oh, the love coming at you in waves every day no matter what. Worth it. Totally.

  26. Shauna – like you, I have reheated rice for years and have never been ill – though the logic with cooling rice should really be applied to all sorts of foods. We generally split hot dishes into several smaller containers; that way they cool quicker before being put in the fridge. People shouldn’t take stuff straight out of the pot and bung it straight into the fridge (or worse… bung the POT into the fridge after just turning off the heat o_0)

  27. Nothing to say about dogs except that I’ve just watched Crufts on tv (a bit of it) and some of the dogs were certainly fluffy and cute. Not so keen on muddy ones, personally.

    The lunar eclipse was rather awe-inspiring, though.

  28. I just don’t know how I lived without a dog before. I’m totally inloved with my puppy. And we are on our second obedience course so now she heels and sits and comes and all those nifty orders.

  29. Congratulations on your two year wedding anniversary!! What a great way to celebrate too, no matter the circumstance 🙂

    And I hope you still haven’t chucked your bike in the canal! That ride sounded punishing but you didi get through it. Just remember that not ALL rides suck arse but yeah, that kind of ride would make me sook too.

    Aww, doggy tales. We had to put down an old fella last year who had been with the family for 15 years. I love my pets but it’s so hard letting go!

  30. Hi Shauna – I’ve just got hold of a puppy and a kitten and suddenly my heart is light, my mind is calm, and my body is guilted into exercise. I think you need to explain to Dr G that pet ownership is THERAPEUTIC and you must adopt a puppy immediately. Or a Cornish Rex kitten. They’re like the next best thing to a puppy.