‘It’s not about doing something dangerous’

There’s been some radio silence on this blog lately. Allow me to explain. For one, I’ve not had much exciting in the way of working out to discuss as I wait for a post-rhabdo follow-up with the sports doctor before I’m cleared to do much of anything interesting in the gym again. My workouts consist of slogging along on the elliptical (thank goodness for my LCD Soundsystem Pandora station), watching the dudes in my new public gym massacre correct form on squats and bench in between doing their curls in front of their mirror, and doing a little bit of lower body work. No upper body allowed while my arms, traps and shoulders heal from the great, misguided, tear-the-muscles-off-the-tendons pull-up workout of new year’s eve 2012.

But for two, I’ve been cray busy getting my freelance writing work going  since being laid off from my day job at the end of January. Every day I’m hustling, trying to drum up more work, and furiously scratching out stories for my local gigs, plus stuff for relish magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Food Network magazine, Fodors.com and LonelyPlanet.com — and NBCNews.com. Exciting stuff! The best part about it is getting to talk to all kinds of fascinating people. The highlight so far? Interviewing the space jumper Felix Baumgartner. You know, the guy that free fell in SPACE?

I wrote a story about his National Geoographic Adventurer of the Year people’s choice award, and got to ask him a few questions for NBC’s Today.com.

What struck me the most was this:

“It’s not about doing something dangerous,” Baumgartner said. “It’s about finding challenges that are meaningful to you, approaching them in a thoughtful way and, hopefully, expanding your boundaries.”

As we know, some of my challenges have been — while not remotely in his realm — a bit insane on some level. And I’ve paid the price.  Squat 200 pounds as a barely 100-pound woman and end up undergoing spinal surgery. Decide to start training for the Iron Maiden challenge (24 kg pistol squat, single arm overhead press, and weighted pull-up) and on DAY ONE do a workout so extreme I land in hospital for nine days with rhabdo, and on rehab for months. Two catastrophic injuries in one year, as my doctor describes it, and I’m finally paying attention. I don’t want to keep getting hurt, but I’m not satisfied without a challenge.

What I learned from the man who jumped out of a balloon 25 miles above the earth is that you have to be smart about it. Approach challenges in a thoughtful way, he says. Granted he has an enormous team behind him, but I have my own supporters in the form of family and friend, and you, dear readers.

Through years of careful planning and preparation he achieved his singularly exceptional dream. And that’s inspiring to millions to reach for their own dreams. I’ve always reached for mine, but my trouble is I don’t know when to back down. And that’s as important as knowing when to reach.

I don’t know what my next physical challenge will be. I’m bound by multiple limitations I’ve caused myself, but I’ll find something to work toward again. In the meantime, I’m reveling in a new type of challenge:  becoming a writer, not just as a hobby, or sideline, but as a way of life. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most meaningful. Detractors are coming out of the woodwork, and some days I painfully understand the adage ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Planning to make this my career and not return to a 9-5 job feels sometimes as petrifying and exhilarating as taking that free fall leap into space. But thanks to adventurers like Felix blazing a path I have the confidence that I can make it happen.

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Exploring the body vital

Our bodies are with us throughout our lives

to  help us experience ourselves

and the world around us

They show us the limits of our experience

yet represent the starting point

of our boundless potential

I had the chance to visit the BODY WORLDS Vital exhibit yesterday in Louisville for a creepy, intimate, and illuminating look inside the human body.  I’m sure I would have found it intriguing no matter what — these are actual human bodies, preserved and displayed in a way to show you how your insides all work — but a week after coming too close to being a specimen myself, I was especially fascinated.

The body’s muscles, laid bare

Bodies were positioned to show them in motion — running, dancing, lassoing, and this beautiful scene of a man lifting a woman over his head.

I don’t think often enough about what’s going on inside my body. It’s there, it does its job, and only when I am in panic mode do I pause to wonder just what’s going on. In the hospital with rhabdo, statistically speaking I had something like a one in 12 chance of my body shutting down permanently because of kidney failure. I doubt I’d ever even given my kidneys a passing thought before. I got to see what kidneys actually look like yesterday, and read with way more interest than I ever paid in science class, that the body’s entire volume of blood passes through them 15 times an hour.

It’s a marvel that we function from minute to minute, let alone the decades that most of us have here.  I got to talk this week with one of my favorite writers, Andrew Pham, a man who has biked the length of Vietnam (you should read his book about it – Catfish and Mandala) and he said that he wants to be the 80-year-old guy still running and swimming. This is the kind of wisdom I’m trying to instill in my frenetic little brain.

I’ve no interest in blaming or torturing myself for being hurt working out, but I do have only myself to hold accountable for not letting it happen again. If I tear down everything that is so carefully constructed in my body before I’m even 40, I won’t be able to use my body for its born intent – to experience the world.

We’re born to move and I want to keep moving.

It could always be worse

My brother, visiting from out of town, pushes my IV on a walk around the hospital. Awesome ensemble I  am wearing isn't it?

My brother, visiting from out of town, pushes my IV on a walk with my mom around the hospital. Awesome ensemble I am wearing isn’t it?

There was a prisoner in the room catty-corner from mine in the hospital.  He had his own guard day and night.  I thought I had it bad, but I didn’t have a guard – I had family and friends who came to visit. I got to come home at the end my my nine days in the hospital with rhabdo. This guy had to go back to prison. It could always be worse.

I allowed myself one time to say “it’s not fair.” And I won’t repeat it. Because that’s a soul-sucking cycle of misery to get caught in. A lot of things aren’t fair. A lot of people have it a lot worse than I do. I missed a trip to Africa and Paris. They’ll still be there later. I’ll have a mammoth hospital bill, even after insurance. So we won’t replace our 80 year old windows this year, and all the money I’m not spending on personal training will go toward the bill.  I can’t exercise for a while. Yes, I love to work out – it makes me feel good, and confident, and happy. Being strong and fit is part of my identity. But I can still do a lot of other things I love to do. Pet my dogs. Watch a movie in bed with my husband. Yack on the phone with my mom for an hour. Read. Dream about travel.

Goody bag from a visiting friend

Goody bag from a visiting friend

I don’t know how I can really deal with the second catastrophic injury (my doctor’s description) in a one year stretch, but I don’t really have any choice. it doesn’t exactly make me feel better to remember it could always be worse, but it can snap me out of a pity party. And I know from last time that once I start to wallow in woe-is-me, it’s a hard road back out. So I just have to not start down the road. And I do that by being thankful.

I listed a lot of people I was thankful for in a Facebook post, but they are all my heroes right now, and deserve mention again in a more public place.

I feel like I have so many people to thank, but I have to start with my mom and my husband. Between the two of them I was as comfortable as was possible, got the moral support I needed to not be terrified every time I got bad news, was well fed with off-campus food, got foot rubs and back rubs, my pillows fluffed and my hair washed. I could go on and on, but really, just having the people around me that love me the most in the world made a very scary, very miserable nine days bearable. I’m a very lucky daughter and wife.

Another round of people to thank: Dawn Geiger for staying with our dogs so Brian could stay in the hospital room with me. Sharon Dunne Gillies for bringing me sushi and company. Jonathan Dennisand Thommy Browne for bringing me a coke and a smile. Liz Solheim Huot and Jesse Huot for hanging out in the hospital room like it was any other night we’ve hung out eating and chatting (sorry the fruit and cheese selection left a bit to be desired).Jesse Hendrix-Inman for bringing us a hospital picnic dinner. Beth Newberry for sitting with me during a scary procedure and bringing the ultimate goodie bag. Constance Ard for helping me take my mind off feeling sorry for myself. Deb Rountree for sending a box of goodies from my favorite treat shop and Please and Thank You for delivering them. Keith Brooks for being at the right place and time when I needed to cry – and for macarons! Sondra Powell for chocolate and coffee. My boss for visiting to make sure I knew not to worry about work. My brother for making the drive from Somerset and making me a bracelet I wore for good luck. My dad for coming up from Somerset to give me a big bear hug that can only come from a daddy. Tracy Kitten for a late night pick-me-up visit. And all of you, you know who you are, for well wishes and prayers and calling and emailing and texting to check on me -especially those of you who made me laugh!. (I didn’t know FB limits how many people you can tag – hope you all see this). If I’ve forgotten anyone I’m sorry – I have been on rather a lot of meds.
So, so, glad to be home and counting my blessings to have so many people that care about me.

Also, I’m glad my arms no longer look like stuffed sausages.

My doctor's low-tech way of reducing swelling: arms over the heart.

My doctor’s low-tech way of reducing swelling: arms over the heart.

 

What the hell is rhabdo? Or, shouldn’t you be in Zambia?

I should be on a plane bound for Lusaka, Zambia, right now – a work assignment, followed by a weekend of thrills at Victoria Falls, and four days in my favorite place in the world, Paris. Why am I waking up in a hospital bed for the fifth morning in a row then, tethered to an IV pole that’s my lifeline, bewildered and shattered?

All I wanted to do was get stronger at pullups. I’m pretty badass with chin-ups, if I say so myself, pounding out 10 (see janky video here) after that inane NYT article came out that said women can’t do pullups. But pullsups are a lot harder. Not even similar, really, and I got the idea that I wanted to train to do a 53 pounds weighted pullup this year.

I like having strong arms!

Training commenced Monday morning, new year’s eve. Not unlike every other workout with my trainer, whose approach is to go to complete muscle failure, I pulled — doing pullup after pullup, some unassisted, then with spotting, till I couldn’t do anything more than hang there, then seated rows, lat pulldowns, tricep extensions, curls, and more until I couldn’t even straighten my arms. I knew I’d be hella sore. I could barely get my coat on or off the rest of the day. But that’s just par for the course for the way I trained in 2012.  It’s how I developed the arms that I’m, I know, inordinately proud of.

That was it. I thought. Then I woke up that night, arms screaming sore, back and abs also incredibly sore. My arms were so sore it felt more like a charlie horse in the bicep. Tuesday was the same. I couldn’t straighten either arm. Wednesday I was in agony. I pulled off my sweatshirt before bed because my arm felt puffy, and no lie, almost passed out. My ears started to ring and my vision went dark around the edges.  I don’t handle shock well. My right arm looked like a textbook case of elephantitis. My husband packed it in ice and convinced me to see a doctor the next day instead of go to urgent care immediately.

I debtated in the morning going to my family doctor, urgent care by my office (to be quick) or my sports doctor, Paul McKee. The others wouldn’t even know what a pullup was, but he is notoriously behind schedule. I called though, and had to good fortune to get in on a cancellation.

Talking about this bizarre happening on Facebook, a friend asked if I’d ruled out rhabdo. My heart froze. I didn’t know much about it but had heard of it from my days at Crossfit. It was bad news.I went early for my appointment and got right in. “I’m worried about a couple of things,” Dr. McKee said. “Don’t say rhabdo,” I pleaded. “I’m worried about rhabdo,” he said.

“The thing is, I’m going to Africa. Monday.” I replied. Things started happening quickly then. A “STAT” blood test, immediately followed by an MRI. Once out of there my bloodwork was back. McKee was admitting me to hospital. He met Brian and me at his office. His words were sort of one big scary string. CK levels of 41,000 (normal is one hundred). Liver damage. Danger of seizing. Of acute renal kidney failure. ICU. Heart attack. I couldn’t even cry it was so surreal. I had only done a few pullups. You don’t die from doing pullups.

I spent my first night in the hospital, breaking down the moment Brian shut the door behind him.

My body’s job was to take in massive quantities of fluid and flush out the toxins the damaged muscles were flooding into my bloodstream. McKee was playing a delicate balancing act. Not enough fluid and the myoglobins (the toxic proteins from the breakdown of the muscle) would damage my kidneys. I already had liver damage. Too much water and I’m in equal danger. I assured him repeatedly that I drink a *lot* of water. Up to a gallon, most days. I can handle it. I lay in the hospital bed in the dark room and in the glow of the IV pole watched the fluids flow into my arm. I pictured the liquid flushing out the goblins (that’s what I like to call them). And in the morning, the number was down by almost half. I might still be able to go to Africa. We had a long talk about blood clot risk, and about what to do if I had a relapse in Zambia (get off the continent, he said).

But in the afternoon the numbers had risen 50%. “I’m taking the decision from you,” he said. “You’re not going anywhere.” Five minutes later a nurse arrived to take my blood pressure. It’s usually about 100 over 65. Now it was 212 over 100.

That was Friday. It’s Tuesday now. We’ve been chasing down the goblins (the CK) and the liver number, balancing sodium and potassium, and he’s pounding me with as much fluid as he would a college athlete twice my size. My kidneys are rock stars. I wish I could get them a present. They are taking every once of fluid and pushing it on out, carrying the toxins with it. My level was 10,000 last night. When I get to 1000 and hold for 6-12 hours I can go home. The amount of fluid he’s giving me would put most people into ICU, McKee says. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am that for years I’ve been such a heavy water drinker.In fact, if I hadn’t been drinking my usual copious quantities all last week I could well have gone into kidney failure before even seeing the doctor. Even still, I saw my doctor just in time – my body was already shutting down when I got to him, he tells me now. “I think I was in a lot more danger than I realized at the time,” I said. “You were,” he says.

So what the heck is rhabdo anyway? and how does it take you from this:

    © John Adkins Photography

© John Adkins Photography

to this:

Here’s how I understand it. When you work out, you tear your muscle down a bit. It rebuilds, and that’s how you get stronger. The small amount of myoglobins pass through your system and don’t hurt anyone. When you completely decimate a muscle, like I did to my bicep, bracchii and lat, your body is infested with the stuff.

This LA Times article has some good information:

It’s difficult to know when vigorous strength training has crossed the line and athletes are at risk of rhabdomyolysis, Clarkson said. Tiny tears occur in muscles after any strenuous workout. The healing of these micro-tears, which causes the soreness people feel after hard exercise, is what prompts the muscle to become stronger.

But the tears release a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. If too much myoglobin is released, it can build up in the kidneys and impair function. Treatment includes intravenous fluids and sometimes kidney dialysis.

Dehydration increases the risk. Eccentric exercise, in which muscle fibers are lengthened as they contract — such as with squats and push-ups — is usually involved in triggering the syndrome, Clarkson said.

However, some cases of rhabdomyolysis also appear to involve a coach’s or trainer’s enthusiasm for working athletes to the brink of collapse, Hawkins said.

It seems it’s a tricky little monster. It’s not like there’s a barometer in your body that indicates when you’ve crossed the line from killer workout to actual killer workout. I didn’t know, my trainer didn’t know, that we’d crossed that line.

I want to be furious and devastated and sick and full of regret, and feel foolish, but I can’t take the energy away from recovering to do any of that. I know the time will come, when I start physical therapy with two pound dumbbells, and I lose my popeye muscles, and I dwell on the travel opportunity of a lifetime that I’ve lost, to feel all of those things. But for now, my job is to rest, let the water do its job, and take comfort where I can in my friends and family and dogs (I got to sneak a little visit with my Alba outside the hospital last night)

Rock the CatBa

Since falling in love with climbing this summer I’ve thought and talked ceaselessly about climbing in Vietnam. The fairytale HaLong Bay, home to some 2,000 (or 3,000 depending who you ask) islands in the Gulf of Tonkin, is a neverland dream for climbers. Even newbies like me. Look at this place!

I started writing the folks at Asia Outdoors months ago, freakishly excited to get in on one of their climbing tours.  When the day finally came to get to Cat Ba Island, naturally everything that could go wrong did, but though a trip I thought would take an hour took seven, we got to their office just before they closed their doors to sign up for the next day’s trip. I was going climbing again! Even amidst the chaos and beauty and craziness that is Vietnam, and suffering from food poisoning, I was consumed with excitement to take on these mysterious rocks.

We boarded a little boat and set out from Cat Ba to cruise through a floating village on our way to a stop for lunch. I restlessly picked at rice while I enviously watched climbers on a nearby island. Could we CLIMB already? Though I was more than a little hesitant that the two guides had only one year of climbing experience between them, and put together were barely as old as me, I couldn’t wait to start.

At last we set out for Moody Beach, an impossibly perfect little island featuring some beautiful — and imposing — walls. Tom and Than, our trusty guides, set up the first climb and asked our little band of travelers who wanted to go first. You can probably guess who leaped up first.

The first route was an easy one they said, meant just to give us some confidence and serve as a refresher for those of us who hadn’t climbed in a while. Though in fact it wasn’t difficult, even an easy climb is still an adrenaline rush, and my heart was racing when I landed back on the beach after the first climb. Each of the next three were more exciting than the last — all 5.8s, the same grade I’d climbed in the Gorge this summer. A 5.9 remained as the light began to wane and the clock ticked toward time to leave. Tom turned to me with a grin. He knew what my background was. “Do you want to try the 5.9?” he asked. He needn’t have even asked.  “It’s not about finishing the route, it’s about making the moves,” he said. And it was a long climb – the tallest of any that day. Two independent climbers had failed to ascend.  But I wanted to get as far as I could.

I harnessed up, and went straight at it. THe difference I could immediately see in the easier climbs and this was that it was pretty much non-stop hard all the way up. Never mind the red ants and the rock that crumbles in your hand – the holds were few and far between and I’d hardly call any of them good. It was a long, long climb – the further I went, the further away the top anchor appeared. I was afraid I’d run out of time, but I didn’t want to rush. I talked to myself the entire way up — I like the pep talks — and just kept going. Shaky arms meant I had to take one rest up high, but I was pleased to not fall. It seemed to take ages, but I just kept climbing and climbing. “You’re going to get it!” called my husband when I got near the top. “I know,” I thought. “I never planned not to.” And I did, hitting the anchor with a grin that stayed on my face all the way down.

I wish I could have taken on a 5.10 but it was time to go. It’ll have to wait now till spring and the Gorge. But now I know I’m ready!


For fun I strapped the GoPro to my helmet on one of the climbs. For some heavy breathing and maybe a few swear words, check it out!

Listen to your body (and take your vitamins!)

Things have a way of coming back to bite you. “I’ve never cancelled a workout,” I’ve been known to say. In the two+ years of my life as an athlete, I’ve been fortunate to not be sick enough to miss a workout (while I’m home anyway — I was miserably sick with a sinus infection while in Paris and Morocco last fall, but that was a scheduled deload time anyway).

Well, never say never. I came down with a viral infection so nasty last week that I cancelled all my weight training for the week, and skipped my mid-week boxing lesson (my new sport this month).  I took off a whopping three days from working out and thought that was sufficient. Back to boxing I went Friday evening, telling myself the cardio would clear my nasal passages and maybe I’d even sweat out some of the sickness.   For good measure I went for a lesson Saturday morning. Then I slept 11 hours that night and felt progressively worse all day Sunday.

Why? I didn’t listen to my body.  After a drastic two and a half week diet getting ready for a photo shoot earlier in the month my usually robust immune system was fried. My body was exhausted. I work full time, train 5+ days a week, balance multiple freelance jobs and am planning two international trips. Eventually something’s got to give.

My husband, who came down with the same bug I did, listened to what I said, not what I did, and cut out his workouts. He’s feeling much better than I am now. We leave next week on a trip that starts with a five-hour car ride, followed by a 14-hour flight, plane change, six-hour flight, and arrival in a city that’s a 12-hour time difference.  I want to go into that gauntlet as healthy as possible. And as difficult as it is for me to skip workouts, that’s just what I have to do. After work my body wants nothing more than to lie quietly on a couch or in bed and read or watch movies.  I have to override the scared voice in my head that tells me I’ll get weak and soft by taking time off. I know perfectly well that I can take time off and still be strong. I was out for two months when I was injured, and came back stronger than ever! Still, it’s a loud voice and I really have to fight to drown it out.

I’m downing tons of water, eating lots of green and orange veggies, and taking my vitamins. Speaking of, now’s a good time to note that I did some traveling back in August that I thought for sure would end with me being sick, but — I think thanks to some super duper vitamins I was taking — I never felt the slightest bit puny. I had the chance to sample GNC‘s Women’s Ultra Mega vitamins, and I’m pretty convinced they kept me running when I was overdoing it. Duringthe month I took the fistfull of vitamins every day I flew out to San Francisco, slept (or not, actually) on a futon for several nights while attending a conference that lasted about 14 hours a day, ate nothing like my usual diet, then flew straight to Oregon for a camping trip for five nights, then back home and straight to work.  I almost always get sick when I travel like that, but I felt healthy as a horse when I got back. My hairdresser also informed me I had an abundance of new curls  coming in. I can’t be sure it was the vitamins, but the packets contained a cornucopia of health-boosting ingredients, so they couldn’t have hurt. In fact, maybe I need to get another month’s supply to as insurance for this next trip.

Either way, I’m going to listen to my body, be kind to it, and give it what it needs.

Shebang

In which I wait in line for two hours to shoot a machine gun

ShebangI’m not a gun person. Not even a little bit. I was terrified the first time I shot one, so I shot a whole bunch in order to get over that. I worked on my aim a little over the summer with a trip to the Linden Sportsmen’s Club with the guys in my husband’s family and found that I’m terrible with a pistol, but fairly good, thank you, with a rifle with a scope.  Even with that bit of practice under my belt though, and my brother (a licensed firearms instructor and gun collector) behind me, I was still a little shaky when I took the Tommy gun at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot.

Clearly the worker assigned to me was apprehensive about me as well, a tiny speck of pink in a sea of large and heavily armed men, as he took the gun away, explained how to stand, handed it back and told me where the trigger was. I may be wearing pink, I wanted to say, but I’m not a dumb girl. I know where the trigger is, I just don’t want to put my finger near it on a MACHINE GUN until I’m ready to fire. [Technically I shot a submachine gun, but whatevs]

I shot with some trepidation at first, then found it wasn’t so scary after all; in fact was kind of fun blasting away at a car, boat, washing machine and drinking fountain out on the range (even though I had no clue if I was hitting my targets). So I fired away for a moment,  then wondered what the heck was wrong with the weapon. It wasn’t shooting anymore.

Turns out 40 rounds go extremely fast in an automatic. At $40 to rent it, that was the most expensive per-second entertainment of my life. But the adrenaline jolt was in line with the ticket price – my hands shook and my heart raced as I left the range.

I can’t speak to everyone else’s motivation for waiting in line to shoot a crazy-ass gun. But for me, shooting isn’t so much about learning the sport of target shooting as it is about facing fear. Guns scare me.  A lot. And I guess there’s not a scarier gun than a machine gun.

Walking the line between fear and adrenaline draws me to other sports; rock climbing, white water kayaking, and every time I find I can face a fear, I feel that much more equipped to take on the next challenge.

The Tommy gun was a favored weapon among Chicago mobsters in the 1920s, though it was originally developed with the ambition of helping end WWI. Read more

And bonus! I’m also now equipped to document my adventures in a new way – video. Thanks to the super cool people at GoPro, I can now record this quest to share in living color. I’m still learning how to use it (and the Mac and iMovie I got to edit) but I foresee a LOT of fun with my new tiny and amazing camera.

Help me pull a plane for the Special Olympics

I wasn’t involved in sports or athletics as a kid (except for a year in 7th grade as the last cheerleader to learn every move). Knowing what I know now about how transformative athletic training can be, and what an incredible boost to self-confidence it is, I wish I could go back and do a lot more in sports. I can’t, but I can help kids who would really benefit from athletics.

I’m going to pull a plane for the Special Olympics. A 147,000-pound UPS Boeing 757 cargo plane!

Ok, so not all by myself 😉 I’m joining the team at my gym, Absolute Fitness, to raise money for Special Olympics Kentucky. Will you go to this page and make a donation to support this fantastic cause? Even $5 will help. My goal is $250 by next Friday. Thank you so much for your support!
Go here to donate

The Paris effect

Paris is a magical place. In many ways of course, but in one very particular, and very happy way. I can eat as much as I want there and not gain an ounce. How can this be? you ask. I ask too. And there’s no logical answer. Yes, I walk a lot. And on my weeklong trip last week I rode a bike several miles a day. But really, I checked the math on an exercise calculator, and the numbers don’t add up.

I ate every day as if it were my last day on earth. Macarons, oozy creamy cheeses, piles of baguettes and croissants and pain au chocolat, cafe creme with sugar, desserts every night, wine with lunch and dinner and before dinner and after dinner, sausage, steak, pasta, and did I mention daily foie gras? Honestly, I ate so much that one day I went to the pharmacy for something for an upset tummy. But I want to devour Paris, and since  I ate with utter reckless abandon. One day I ate an entire wheel of Camembert. Fried. As my first of three courses.

And when I got home I weighed precisely the same as when I left. Now I don’t like to weigh – when you’re building muscle the scale doesn’t really mean that much, but I wanted a basis of comparison. So I weighed and I measured my waist before I left, and not only did I not gain weight, my circumference even shrank a bit.

So yes, I walked a lot. I rode a bike. I climbed 700 stairs on the Eiffel Tower. I even did a pretty tough workout with a fantastic personal trainer from Waite fitness. But all that could have only been a drop in the caloric bucket.  The only reasonable assumption I can make is that it’s magic. The magic of Paris. Clearly I must move there.

Before

Before

‘Camembert frit’

Un pique-nique

a

After (complete with the new macaron tattoo)