I Love Michigan: Ann Arbor

I can’t help it. This post and those that follow are going to read like a script for those Pure Michigan ads. However, I don’t need a script. All I have to say is off-the-cuff, from the heart and Pure Michigan.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of a date day with my husband. We stole away to Ann Arbor for the afternoon and then to his brother’s house later that evening.

Why Ann Arbor? It wasn’t for MTV’s casting call for the Real World at Scorekeepers. But, isn’t it great that filmmakers think Ann Arbor is a great city? It has urban appeal, a great mix of people, and the University of Michigan campus.

Anyway, why Ann Arbor? The bargain book shelves and tables at Borders’ flagship store on Liberty. Great people watching from Amer’s big plate-glass window. Nickel’s Arcade and the University of Michigan are beautiful even under a gray, cold March sky. March Madness at Buffalo Wild Wings on State Street.

Plus, Ann Arbor has a permanent signature on our relationship. My husband and I spent nearly one year of our dating lives there. Our first date was on the patio at Good Time Charley’s. Then there were Saturday afternoons goofing off at Pinball Pete’s, Middle Earth and The Little Brown Jug; a Valentine dinner at Palio’s; autumn strolls through the Arboretum; and haunted hayrides at Wiard’s.

One more very special connection to Ann Arbor is family. I am proud and boastful to mention a number of relatives live there or nearby. Rest assured, my husband, children and I will be spending many more fabulous Saturdays re-visiting and creating memories in this fabulous urban landscape.

Reality Check

Up until September, I was an avid viewer of The Biggest Loser. My interest sparked when contestants from Southeastern Michigan celebrated tremendous successes on the show. The Biggest Loser does extend a powerful, positive message: anyone can make lasting positive lifestyle changes given the right environment, support and resources. Also, the celebrity personal trainers, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, appear to have a proven track records. Their exercise DVDs have been among my best fitness aids because they have helped me realize visible, lasting results.

With that being said, I also think the show encourages at-home viewers to develop unrealistic fitness and weight management expectations. For example, most of us do not have the luxury of leaving professional, parental, marital, social, and household responsibilities to focus exclusively on weight and fitness management for extended periods of time. Next, devoting all wakeful hours to exercise is not a consistent reality and it is unhealthy. Finally, it is unnerving to watch the weigh-ins at the end of each episode. With self-esteem hanging out for all to see, each contestant steps onto the scale for the moment of triumph or defeat. Smiles deflate, shoulders slump and words of disappointment come forth when losses don’t match expectations. I can relate to this. There have been objectives — some too grandiose — I have set for myself. Along the way, I encountered challenges and experienced frustration that zapped my confidence. But, I think contestants should be encouraged to stand proud for all pounds lost. A loss is a loss. Plus, it’s unrealistic for at-home viewers to expect losses comparable to what they see on The Biggest Loser.

Living in the Moment

A few weeks ago, I watched Piers Morgan interview Oprah on CNN. One of the most engaging, memorable sound bites was when Oprah talked about living in the moment. She talked about being able to thoroughly enjoy the dialogue with Morgan because she was focused specifically on life in that particular moment; not about the past and not about the future. Oprah identified living in the moment as one of her greatest life achievements.

I have been thinking about this portion of the interview for some time. Living in the moment is an ability to aspire to. But, is this a reality anyone can really achieve? Can anyone truly filter out — completely — all past reflections and forward thinking while doing something else at any given moment, consistently?

As I write this post, I am living in the moment; focused on the topic at hand. I am also listening to Foo Fighters and thinking about making my daughter’s lunch for school in 30 minutes.

But, I believe Oprah’s challenge was to savor each living moment we have; because our past is just that; and the future is unknown. Anything could happen. The irony of my reflections is that a girlfriend and I discussed this very issue just a few nights after the Morgan-Oprah interview. It was Janurary 15 and we had attended a Pistons’ game with our husbands. We were nicely surprised to witness a win against the Sacramento Kings. As we drove home from Auburn Hills, the roads were slushy and snow flurried across the windshield. It was a cold, dark night. All of us expressed how anxious we were for spring. My girlfriend agreed, but noted we were wishing our lives away. By thinking forward to March and April were not allowing ourselves to truly enjoy what we had that evening.

She was so right. The fun, cozy night began with a delicious Mexican meal at Miguel’s Catina in Rochester, Mich. Our good times continued with coffee at Caribou and then the Pistons’ game with fantastic seats in Section 102, Row E complements of a charitable organization I made a donation to in November. The four of us had it all; and we still do even in arctic-like Shelby Township, Mich.

5 in 30

My goal is to make five miles in 30 minutes on the elliptical. Tonight, I clocked 4.90 miles. Missing with such a small margin infuriates me to no end. I even fueled up with two cups of coffee before stepping on.

March 7, 9:30 pm – I attempted this again and missed by the same puny margin. This time I am pointing an angry bird at a new show I love watching while running my elliptical. I tuned into to catch the last few minutes of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Travel Channel. He was in Cambodia tasting some happy pizza. I was laughing so hard, the focus on my goal wavered. This also made me think of some happy chocolate truffles I tried at a party once.

March 14, 10:00 pm – Did it! I made my goal with seconds to spare! No extra caffeine necessary. Now, I need another goal. I ran while watching One Fine Day starring George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer. Remember that one? It’s an oldie. I had been dating my husband for a few months; and we smuggled a six-pack into the premiere at that Ann Arbor Showcase.