Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Finally, Less of Me

I've been accused of burying the lead before, so:  I've dropped nearly twenty pounds over the past six weeks.  Huzzah!  This doesn't mean that I have a normal BMI yet, but I'm inching closer to it.

My sources (a.k.a., the interwebs) tell me I'm trimming down at a good rate, because if you lose any faster than that, you (a) are probably going to gain it all back, and (b) may end up resembling a deflated balloon. Slack latex is not a trend this year according to Vogue, so I'm trying to avoid that particular look.

Anyway, I shifted my intake and exercise on May 14, 2012, the day after Mother's Day. I mean, why would I want responsible menu choices hanging over my head on a day that's all about me? Plus, it would have meant I had to cook, and that's just silly talk.

But the pants... The pants were so tight. Not just my regular pants either. My scary-size pants. My work out pants. My pajama pants. Do you know how ridiculous it is when your pajama pants are tight?  Anyway, I was dangerously close to officially hitting the 'Obese' BMI category, and a number popped up on my scale that I hadn't seen since I was heavily pregnant.


I know why I put on weight.  I've never been super-careful about my diet, so I've always carried a few extra pounds. Things ramped up, though, when the Little Guy was six months old, because that's when my mother was diagnosed with terminal brain and lung cancer. 

During the six months of her illness, I chose to stop breastfeeding (enormous stress + much time away from baby = weaning).  So, I wasn't getting rid of a couple of hundred calories a day, effort-free, anymore.  Add to that a whirlwind of hospital visits (where they serve ironically unhealthy food), dinner in the car (i.e., fast food), eating unending comfort food given by neighbors, and ordering in because I was too exhausted too cook. 

And then, she died.  Repeat the above, for another year.  These aren't excuses.  I think everyone asks themselves, "How did I get to this point?" You must do that in order to figure out how to deal with life, and the things about it that can suck, better.

This past spring, I knew things were not good, and that I had to change.  And thus, after a decadent Chinese swan song of kung pao chicken and cream cheese wontons (I know, I know), I decided to cowgirl up and deal with my sponginess.  I'm not doing a program; no Weight Watchers, no Jenny Craig, no South Beach, no Atkins.  None of that.  I mean, that's group work, to an extent, right?  And we all know how I feel about group work.

Basically, I'm doing what every phys. ed. teacher, article in 'Cosmo,' and episode of 'The Biggest Loser' tell you to do:  eat better, move more.

Rocket science, eh?  But it's working. Pants are loosening. Buttons have stopped popping. A hint of a waist is appearing. People at the office have even asked me if I'm losing weight (*pumps fist in air*).

Okay, so, in case you're interested, here are the specifics of what I've been up to:
  1. Downloaded the LiveStrong Daily Plate app to track every horrifying thing I was eating. I generally know what's bad and what isn't, and those are the easy things to cut out.  Like, of course I'm not going to get loaded nachos. But yikes, there's a lot of calories and fat in those little Mini Moos that I was liberally dumping into my coffee.  So I brought in my own.  Easy.
  2. Regarding the app, the nutrients pie chart the app offers has been especially helpful, because I'd never really paid attention to trying to keep to a balance of 60% carbs, 20% protein, and 20% (good) fat in my diet. Anyway, this has resulted in me swapping out junky for healthy, because, seriously, unless it's nirvanalicious, most pizza is just not worth it.
  3. Stopped dining out like I was the Sultan of Brunei.  I couldn't adequately account for what I was eating. Extra bonus is that this saved me some money as well.
  4. Cut out most booze.  Not all.  Just most.
  5. Hit the gym regularly.  Regularly = more often than the quarterly, "we miss you!" e--mails from the YMCA. Joking aside, I go to the gym or track every day, run for 30 minutes, and then do some weight-training.
  6. Committed to drinking water. Lots and lots and lots of water.  Liters.  Seriously, I hit the ladies room every 90 minutes.  Before, I drank lots and lots of coffee.  I made a deal with myself that I would only drink a cup of coffee if I preced it with 20 ounces of water.  This has dramatcially cut down on my coffee intake.
It hasn't been a really big struggle, believe it or not. The toughest parts for me have been balancing the workout regimen with family time, and not appearing rude if I eschew (ha!) the unhealthy items on the menu at a party.  With respect to the former, as wonderfully supportive as my husband is, I don't want to abandon him with the kids every night, so I'll try to go to the gym before he leaves for work at 7:00 a.m., or at night after I put the Little Guy to bed.

Ultimately, it's like anything:  you actually have to want to do this.  Like, if an addict is forced into rehab, most of the time, the clean living doesn't hold.  And I wanted to do this.  I wanted my pants to fit.  I wanted to avoid the kindhearted 'you need to lose weight' pearls of wisdom during my physical.  Forty years down the road, I don't want my children to worry about me because I'm suffering from some ailment that I caused by living like a dope.

But mostly, I wanted my pants to fit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Are You Ready for the Summer? Are you Ready for the Good Times?

Yesterday was the first day of summer camp for the Boy and the Girl.  Little Guy remains snuggled into his in-home daycare situation, though I'm sure he would be thrilled to splash around in the muddy creek on the campgrounds.  But the starting age is five, so he's out of luck.

Anyway, when my husband picked them up from camp yesterday, the Girl announced, "I think I'm going to love it here!"  The Boy, eyes downcast, lip trembling, mumbled, "Today was the worst day of my life."

And so it goes with these two.

I understood the Boy's doldrums, though:
  1. Four of his friends are signed up for the same camp, but none of them were there yesterday.  Unfortunate coincidence.
  2. Yesterday was indoor-swim day. The Boy does not like to be required to do something.  He prefers to feel that he has a choice in the matter.  I, of course, ignore this and steamroll him often.  Which probably doesn't help things, but hey, you don't always get to pick your activity, you know?  Anyway, they told him he had to swim, and then, because he's one of the youngest in his group, he had to where a life vest.  This doubled-down on his displeasure.
  3. It rained yesterday.  Not buckets, but enough to turn the fields into a squelchy mess.  Rain = no fun in the sun.
Today was a little better, though, so p'raps by the end of the week, he'll happily bolt from the car.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Still Haven't Learned How to Steer This 36-Year-Old Body

Wiping out on perfectly tidy concrete stairs sure makes a girl feel poised and graceful! This I know, as this happened to me on my way into the office this morning.  All I was doing was checking my e-mail on my phone, and ker-flop!  The toe of my very sensible flat caught on the step, and down I went.  I was mostly unscathed (thanks to a fortuitous choice in jeans), but my phone was perilously close to having been lost. 

I let it go during my tumble so that I wouldn't smash my nose against the steps.  Had it been an iPhone, I may not have made that choice, but that's neither here nor there.  Anyway, the phone skittered across the landing and slid into the ivy that rolls down the hill into which the steps are carved. 


I spent the next minute belly-flopped on the concrete, fishing for my phone.  Luckily, it was pretty close to the steps, so my tiny T-Rex arms were able to recover it.

This can only mean good things on the horizon with my work day, yes?

Saturday, June 09, 2012

On Radiohead

I'm feeling left out of something.  So, I have to pick on it, because I'm mature like that.

Here it is:  I have a theory that a bunch of the people who say they like Radiohead are fibbing, because they know Radiohead is critically cool.  Obviously, there are people who are truly passionate about them, or there wouldn't be that many nodding heads and glowing cell phones on the live stream from Bonnaroo that I have on in the background.

I don't know, man.  I'm sure a rain of shite (i.e., two comments) will descend on me for declaring my ambivalence toward Radiohead. But it's such a thing among some Gen-Xers. Radiohead = God. Done. No further discussion needed.  Let's all just hang back in our chunky black glasses, confident in our premium vintage of musical entertainment.

But I just can't get on board with the deification of Radiohead.  And if anyone should, it's me.  I mean, good Christ, I was ridiculously plugged into the early '90's music scene, the time when they hit the national (alternative) stage.  This is me from 1989 to 1994:  Reading Rolling Stone cover to cover (and I mean even all of the Top 10 lists in he back, EVEN COUNTRY), going to all-ages shows in dives around Baltimore and DC, HFStivals, DC101 Chili Cook-offs, house parties with live bands, high school jazz band performances...

I should at least be nostalgic for Radiohead, shouldn't I?  Hearken back to my junior year of high school, developing black and white photos in the art department's dark room after school?  I mean, jeez, my musical opinion fomented in the age of 'Creep.' So, really, just for nostalgic reasons, I should freakin' love them, right?  But NO. I don't. I want to cram their fake plastic trees in a recycling bin. I want to tell Kid A that he needs to go to summer school. I want the karma police to arrest them.

I have tried, and tried, and tried again, but either the emperor has no clothes and they are merely meh, or I have really, really missed the boat on something.  I worry that I'm going to be that sniffy 60-something who's all, "I didn't much care for the Beatles.  Herman's Hermits were more my thing."

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Over the Mermorial Day weekend, my husband and I road tripped to Connecticut -- SANS CHILDRENZ -- to attend the wedding of one of his college roommates.  It was glorious.  You know how, when you were a little kid, you bounded out of bed and greeted every morning with enthusiasm because you could do whatever you wanted?

It was like that.

I didn't even sleep in!  There was just too much me-time to enjoy.  My husband and I were simpatico in this.  For the double-overnighter, he brought like six books.  I brought my laptop and my workout gear. 

Yes, that's right, WORKOUT GEAR. 

I have not spoken of my recent efforts to trim down my Stay Puft Marshmallow Man middle, because, really?  Who wants to hear about caloric restrictions and the new equipment at the gym?  It's like talking about the stock market, or horoscopes, or baseball stats.  At least 78% of the people in the room will yawn and their eyes will roll right out of their head.

Anyway, I pulled on this ancient workout gear and went for a jog around the local high school track.  Okay, jog may be a bit of an oversell.  I jog one lap, walk a half lap, etc., 'til I get to two or three miles. You marathoners can hold back your giggles.  My thumb-sized legs are not designed for long runs.

The track was okay, but the flock of geese hanging out in the shot put pit were clearly deciding if they wanted to start a turf war with me.  They'd marked their territory aplenty.  Those two miles were as much an obstacle course as anything else.

Afterward, I headed back to our palatial room at the Econo-Lodge and hopped in the shower to prep for the wedding.  As I scrubbed the sweat out of my hair, I felt something round and edgy on my scalp.  "Huh," I thought, "is that a scab?"  It is well within your rights to be grossed out by this.  I have made no secret of the enormity of my head, and, since I'm fresh out of curb feelers for my dome, I kind of inadvertently bang it on things. I don't even really notice minor injuries any more.  I may be concussed right now.  So sleepy...

But, it was no scab.  No sir.  It was a TICK.

Blech! Uch!  Yuck!  Ick! 

I just pulled a TICK off of my HEAD.  This does not help my aversion to outdoorsiness, Mother Nature!  I don't even know where I picked this thing up.  I didn't brush up against any trees on my way to and from the track.  I bet it was the geese.

My instinct was to drop it and let it go to a watery grave down the drain.  Then the rational side of my brain took over, and decided I should keep it to make sure it wasn't a deer tick.  I have a brother with Lyme Disease, and I want no part of it.  My solution was to stab it with the sliver of gratis bath soap.  Once he was firmly affixed to the sudsy bar, I thought, "Perfect!  Get out of THAT, bloodsucker!"

Except, I still needed to shave my legs, and for that, I needed unfettered access to the soap.  Herm.

My follow-up plan was to scrape the tick from the soap using my razor handle.  This took a few minutes.  Did you know that hotel soap is a more powerful binding agent than, say, God?  No?  Well, now you do.  Finally, I plastered the STILL WRIGGLING TERMINATOR TICK to a shelf in the bathroom.  I went about my ablutions, shaken, but determined to be ready on time for lunch and then the wedding ceremony.

After my shower, I did a little web research and identified the bug carcass:  it was a dog tick.  A DOG tick.  Great.  He couldn't tell the difference between me and a dog.  Okay, fine, ticks aren't picky.  But it is still not a thrill to be munched on by a dog tick.

You'd think this tale would be over now, right?  Bug found, dispatched, anxiety about the contraction of a neurological disease dissipated...  Nope.  We went to lunch, came back to the room, I fiddled around with my computer, then, when my locks were dry enough, I flat-ironed my hair.  All told, maybe three hours had passed since the shower?  And at the end of the flat-ironing, I took a peek in the mirror, hoping to see a sleek siren smiling back.  

I did!

But my visage dissolved into confusion, then horror, then grim determinedness.  I sighed, grabbed a tissue, and pinched ANOTHER tick from my neck.  Clearly, this one had somehow survived the shower, but hid out in my hair until the flat iron evicted it. 

I chose not to share this story with the bride and groom.  But, I *did* check them for ticks when I hugged them and congratulated them later.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Goodnight, Mom

My youngest child, Little Guy, is a man of few words.  This was also true for his big brother, so it is not especially worrying.  But, he's starting to express himself more, and the results are hilarious.  Now, at bedtime, I'll pop him in his crib and say, "Good night, pal."

"Goonigh, Mum."  (Yep, he's apparently British in his toddler-hood.)

"Good night, honey."

"Goonigh, Mum."

"Good night, sweetie."

And, repeat about six times.  I can't help feeding into the loop of "good nights."  It's hilarious to me that he'll just keep saying good night until I stop. 

Yesterday Was Just... Weird, Man. Just Weird.

We all sneer at astrology.  Until so many whacked-out things happen, you become CONVINCED that you are not an agent in it.  Instead, it becomes apparent something in the very firmament is skewy, and it is raining it's triune thundersnow upon your head.

Like yesterday.

While waiting for the bus stop, a pair of mating birds nearly FLEW INTO MY HEAD.  Look, I have a big head.  Not ego-wise.  Irish-wise.  But I didn't think it had it's own gravitational pull! As the birdies played the chasey-chasey game, one of them honestly buzzed my head, lifting my hair from my shoulders.  Can you imagine if they'd actually connected with my noggin?  I'd have to get treated for a concussion and rabies.

Stupid young love.

Next, when I tried to drop my daughter off at her Pre-K/daycare on UMBC's campus, there was a note plastered to the door that said, "Campus is on lock-down.  There is a gunman on the loose."

Um, what?

Now, all of you 'The Wire' devotees can just back off.  YES, there is a metric ton of crime in Baltimore.  But I live outside of the city in the suburbiest suburbs you can imagine.  Wisteria Lane?  PSHAW!  So, the idea that the college campus that is located behind my neighborhood has gun-totin' students, well, that was a new one.

So, I kissed my daughter goodbye and wished her godspeed.  NO, of course I didn't do that.  She came home with me until the shenanigans were resolved.  But, it kind of squashed my work-from-home plans.

After I dropped her off (you know, after the gunman was found and carted off to detention or whatever they do with students who stupidly break the law), I went to my son's 2nd grade class picnic.  When I say, 'picnic,' I mean sitting in a patch of dirt with grass whiskers, eating whatever I could cobble together for my son since he doesn't like sandwiches, or lunch meat, or most cheeses. 

This is what I came up with for him: 2 hard boiled eggs, a bucket of cubed watermelon, blueberries, a kosher pickle, string cheese, potato chips, and a juice box.  Yum?  But the weirdness of this rendez-vous was not the food, nor was it the 'games' we played (here's a tip to the teachers coordinating next year's picnic:  give parents the rules for the games we are supposed to lead). 

No, this weirdness was all about one of my son's friends.  For the purposes of this tale, please note that he is not a special-needs child. 

While we were unwrapping our lunches, he declared, "I can suck my toes!"  And proceeded to do that.  While sitting with us on our picnic blanket.  So there I am, munching on some baby carrots, and this kid is really lollipopping his big toe. "You know," I said, "that may seem hilarious now, but if you keep it up, you're going to be the kid in high school that everyone remembers sucked his toes at the 2nd grade picnic."

He did not seem to care.

As if on cue, though, two fourth grade girls at recess walked by, and he again shouts, "I can suck my toes!"  Both girls squealed, "EW!" He paused for a moment, but then jumped right back on that horse.

If he and my son have a play date, I may institute a "shoes stay on" policy.