Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I can't believe it's the end of 2011 already. I say this every December 31st, but where did the year go?!

It's been a good year I must say. The year had its highs (my new job) and low (we lost the Beau's grandmother), overall 2011 was good. And some may say that it's a bad year if nothing good happens, but I say it's a good year if nothing terribly bad happens. And today the Beau, the kitty and I find ourselves in good health and high spirits, comfy in our wonderful home and knowing we're surrounded by family and friends we love and who love us back.

It's okay to maintain the status quo, when the status quo is as good as this. I hope tonight finds you all in high spirits and that tomorrow ushers in a happy and wonderful new year!

Here's to 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to all!

Today is Friday. It was Wednesday two days ago and I didn't weigh in. Oops.

But it's been a busy week this week, even with work being quiet; putting the finishing touches on Christmas takes as much - or more - time as putting on the starting touches. But I think we're ready. Even if we're not, we're heading out of town this afternoon and won't be back home until after Christmas, likely December 28. And since that's only three days from my year-end goal round-up, I figure there's no harm in not weighing in again until then.

After all, it's the holidays! Time to relax, enjoy family and friends, eat delicious food, drink delicious drinks and just not worry about silly things like the number on the scale.

To everyone who reads this, I wish you a very happy and safe Christmas and I'll see you before the New Year!

Happy Christmas to me!

I do love the Christmas season and I love giving and making presents for others, but I also like to treat myself.  And I've been so good this year paying down my debts that, when I got my overtime pay cheque, I thought I'd do something special for me.



I ended up shelling out a bit more than I normally would on something for myself - $1,118.06 to be exact - but this is a one-time thing and I figured it was well worth it.



And even though it was all done online I still got a bit of a rush when I processed the payment. It's always a little sad seeing that much money disappear from my bank account but I'm confident it was the right thing to do and the right time to spend that much money.



Regardless, the money has been spent and there's a strict no refunds or returns policy so what's done is done.



I paid off another student loan today. That's 3 of 4 gone. And no more loans with CIBC.




HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ME!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How much exercise is that cookie worth?

I came across this interesting blog post on Chatelaine and looked at the article on Marie Claire that it referenced and the idea intrigues me: put exercise labels on junk food, as well as calorie labels. The idea is that telling people how much exercise they'll have to do to burn off the junk food they're about to consume will encourage them to make healthier choices and not eat that doughnut.

The Marie Claire article cited a study that showed sales in pop dropped after people knew how much exercise was required to burn it off. I find this fascinating and knowing how much exercise that cookie will cost me is much more helpful than knowing how many calories are in it. I think that people (me included) vastly overestimate the amount of calories they burn when exercising. I know that the calories burned counter on cardio machines is often wrong (in an overestimating sense) but seeing 453 calories burned after 45 minutes of exercise feels...paltry. And knowing it's likely less feels even worse.

Of course, arguments will be made against this idea because people can burn more or less calories depending on their fitness level. But I think that people who are fit already avoid junk food or at least indulge infrequently enough to not need to worry about burning off the bad food. With obesity rates rising in children and the sedentary lifestyle becoming the rule, I think it's a good idea, especially with food and beverages that people think are healthier. Would a parent be less likely to give a child a huge glass of Sunny D if it would take an hour of exercise to burn it off?

And that's what I'd like to see: how much exercise it would take to cancel out the "healthy" foods we're led to believe are better for us because the TV says they are high in calcium or made with whole grains or are fat-free. I know a Big Mac is bad; tell me how bad that fat-free popcorn is or the sugar-free yogurt.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review: The Sisters Brothers

I love the cover of this book. More books need awesome covers like this. I also happened to love the text of the book as well. Isn't it great when things work out like that?

With all the buzz and much-deserved accolades given to The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, I feel like it would be redundant to rehash the plot but I also feel some kind of summary is necessary so I'll do my best to keep it short: Charlie and Eli Sisters are muscle-for-hire en route to do a job in California during the Gold Rush. While traveling across the country, Eli begins to question why they do what they do and what kind of life he'd like to have instead. The journey to and from the west coast ends up changing both brothers irrevocably.

There are so many great things about this book, but the one I found most interesting was the narrator: Eli Sisters. Being told first-person by one half of the brothers was unexpected, in all honesty, but it worked. Eli is the one who is questioning what they do and what else they could do and doesn't have the same lust for killing that older brother Charlie has. He's more of a moral compass as well, but always fiercely loyal to Charlie. Eli also shuns many western cliches: he's not fond of the drink; he has feelings that go beyond physical for the whores; he loves his horse enough that he turns down a better steed to keep his wonky, one-eyed wonder; he worries about his weight; and he's thrilled at the idea of brushing his teeth. (Seriously, how often does personal hygiene crop up in westerns?)

But the book isn't played as some kind of odd couple romp; the comic elements are decidedly dark and though Charlie and Eli are different, they are brothers and they stick together. Also, we never get into Charlie's head; there's no alternating narrators, just Eli, and I like that. We're taken on this journey with the two title characters and we learn about them both, but only through the eyes and mind of Eli. And while both men suffer, it's Charlie who suffers the most - but again, we only know how much based on Eli's perceptions.

Using the Gold Rush as the background is also wonderful, as it allows a variety of secondary gold-obsessed characters to come and go to comedic and melodramatic effect. It also puts the reader in familiar territory as we all know of the Gold Rush and the dreams and greed it inspired. And of the myriad characters, including the brothers, it's hard to pinpoint who's "good" and who's "bad". Of course, some are worse than other and some are better than others, but it's not like other westerns where you know who to root for; the good guys don't rid up in white hats at the last second to save the maiden tied on the train tracks. Maybe I'm generalizing a bit as I don't know if all westerns clearly identify the good and the bad, but I appreciate a book more when there is that ambiguity and gray area between good and bad.

I think Eli as narrator is my favourite element of this book. The more I think about it, the more it feels daring and unconventional. (It could be I feel that way because I don't read enough, but whatever.) This book was a mainstay on literary awards' shortlists (and award recipient) for good reason: it's a smart, interesting book with intriguing characters, set during a time in history we're all familiar with. I don't know enough about westerns in literature to know if this refreshes or invokes other cliches about the genre, but it's more than just white hat vs black hat in a shoot out at high noon in some corral.

Book Review: Clouded Vision

It's high time I caught up on my Canadian Book Challenge reviews. I have been reading (thank you, hour-long commute!) but I just haven't made the time to write my reviews. I've got four books to review (and another two to read) and I've got the time now, so those reviews will be coming fast and furious.

The first in my backlog is Clouded Vision, a novella by Linwood Barclay. I used to read Barclay regularly when he was a columnist with the Toronto Star and when he left to pursue a writing career, well, I didn't follow. This is the first of his fiction offerings I've read. He has done quite well for himself, achieving international success with his crime books and I believe he's carved out his own niche for suburban crime thrillers.

So I felt kind of bad when I didn't like Clouded Vision.

I do like the novella as a format: longer than a short story, shorter than a novel but still enough to provide a good read. One of my favourite novellas is Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King, which was later adapted into one of my favourite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. Just because a novella is shorter doesn't mean it can't produce a good story.

Clouded Vision does have an interesting story: a young woman, Keisha, pretends to by psychic to help people, all the while charging $1,000 for her "skills". She goes to the house of a man whose wife is missing to give him "clues" and make a quick buck. Of course, things go terribly, horribly, awfully wrong.

There are some interesting twists, I'll give it that. The story sticks to the night when Keisha is pulling her scam, with a few flashbacks for context. The only characters in the story are necessary ones and the plot moves along quickly (though being a novella, there's no time to dilly-dally).

It's hard for me to pinpoint what exactly I didn't like about this book. The only reason I've kept thinking about it is because I have to review it. And I didn't feel any desire to pick up another book by Barclay; in fact I felt the opposite. I don't want to read more of his books, which makes me sad because I love me a good crime thriller and I love supporting Canadian authors. But this story just felt...flat.

I have no doubt that many people will read this and enjoy it and pick up other books by Barclay and enjoy them. I just won't be one of them.

Book Review: Natural Order

Natural Order is my favourite book of 2011. Hands down. Go read it. Now.

Do you guys remember the book Fruit?  It's about a boy who's nipples start talking to him one day and it was the runner up in the 2009 edition of Canada Reads.  Fruit is written by Brian Francis and, though I've never read it, I may have to after reading Francis' Natural Order.

First, a note about the author: Brian Francis is a male (which may be obvious from the name, but pseudonyms and such can throw you for a loop), he's gay and I believe he lives in Toronto.  Why is this important?  Because he has made the narrator of Natural Order a small-town woman in her 80s named Joyce Sparks - and he does a fantastic job telling the story in her voice.

The story centres on Joyce and various stages of her life: as a teenager, as a wife and mother, as a widow living on her own and as an octogenarian in a nursing home nearing the end of her life. As Joyce narrated through her life, my emotions towards her changed. At times I liked her, hated her, sympathized with her, questioned her, and wanted to scream, "Just talk to him!". She's a frustrating character and comes across as both protagonist and antagonist simply by being herself.

As a teenager, Joyce fell in love with Freddy Pender, despite rumours that he was "fruity". When Freddy left his small-town life for an acting career, Joyce married Charlie Sparks and had a son named John, though she never stopped thinking of Freddy and would even buy the tabloids for a glimpse of him in his new life. Joyce eventually learns that Freddy has committed suicide by jumping from a cruise ship and is told by Freddy's mother that a mother always knows when something isn't right with her son.

These allusions to Freddy's homosexuality weigh on Joyce as she sees her beloved son drawn to dolls and kitchen sets rather than trucks and sports. Desperate to protect her son, Joyce begins making choices and keeping secrets from her husband, family and friends, trying to ensure John doesn't end up like Freddy. But her choices and secrets do have a devastating effect on her and her loved ones.

Homophobia is always simmering beneath the surface in this book and many would be appalled that people could think and feel this way towards homosexuals. However, I'm from a small town where homophobia also simmers and sometimes boils over and reading about Joyce in her small town and the attitudes people had towards gays hit close to home. At times it felt like Joyce was talking about people I knew and still know, people who still think this way.

Brian Francis is a wonderful writer and he takes the reader between the various times in Joyce's life easily, even when it's one paragraph to the next. Francis has Joyce hinting at what happened next in the past before taking the reader back to the present and Joyce's current struggles with her choices. These were lovely little cliffhangers that kept me reading far later into the night than I should have.

Despite her flaws, though, Joyce makes her decisions out of love and Francis never makes us think she's a hateful person. Confused, scared, proud, even devious, but never hateful. She does what she thinks is right, even if the reader knows it's so wrong and who wouldn't do what they think is right for someone they love?







Monday, December 19, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #36

Yes it's Monday. Yes I'm finally posting about my weigh-in last Wednesday. But I have good reason for being late: I doubted the accuracy of my scale and had to figure out how to test it. The solution presented itself over the weekend, as I started my Christmas baking and a key part of baking is flour. So while shopping for ingredients I picked up an 11 lb bag of flour - which turned out to be the perfect thing to test my scale, as I know exactly how much it weighs.

Boo-yah!

I had convinced myself my scale was off and felt rather smug when putting the bag of flour on said scale. And the reading? 

11 pounds.  Which is how much the bag of flour weighs. Which means my scale works just fine. Which means my weight is what it say it is. Which is rather shitty.

So...the weigh-in:

Last week: 196.4 lb
This week: 196.4 lb

Okay, no change is better than gaining.  I'll go with that.  Still, I'd like to get that last 6.4 lb off before January 1. (Actually, I'd like to get 6.5 lb off so the scale reads less than 190 lb. Yup, I'm so splitting hairs on this.)

So there you have it. My scale works, my weight isn't dropping (but also not climbing) and I baked all weekend.  Though I did learn something while baking: if you ever want to know how bad a dessert is, just make it from scratch. I'm looking at you, pecan pie with 1 cup of corn syrup.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In the Christmas spirit

Like the new red look?  I wanted something a little more Christmasy for my blog and I think this works.  I do love this time of year!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #35 and Goals Update


Hi guys!  Remember me?  That tardy blogger?  Yeah.  I started this post Thursday at work and I'm finally posting it Friday.  Yeesh.

I haven't been ignoring my blogging duties on purpose, it's just that life got in the way - but it's been good.  I haven't talked much about my happy health of late and that's still important to me and an important part of overall health.  The reason I haven't been talking about it is because I'm in such a good place, happy-wise.  Despite some previous setbacks and a rough day here and there, I've been super happy.  It likely has to do with the Christmas season because I LOVE this time of year but I'm also at a good place in my life.  To be cliche, things are falling (and have fallen) into place.  And it's grand.

But that doesn't mean I don't still have goals or that I'm not getting on the scale.  Since I skipped blogging about my weigh-in last week (but I did weigh in), let's start there:

Two weeks ago: forgot to weigh in
Last week: 196.6 lb
This week 196.4 lb (-0.2 lb)

I've decided I need a new scale.  It's digital and when I turn it on it automatically shows 4 lb, even though no one and nothing is on it.  I reset it after this of course, but I'm always wondering if it's phantomly adding 4 lb.  So I'm going to buy a new one.  Take THAT, scale!

(And for the record, not thrilled with this number but I feel good and think I look pretty good, so I'm not going to stress too much).

So how goes everything else?  Let's see:

Goal:Run - I'm slowly getting back into running regularly but I'm stalling out at about 3 km.  I also need to get a refill on my Ventalin inhaler so I can continue to breathe.  Once I do this I should be able to get my distance back up there.  Lately I've been running out of breath before I run out of energy.

Goal:Food - Work has been so busy of late that I've completely fallen off doing this.  I need to get back into it because I know I do well for most of the day but fall apart in the evenings (usually evenings spent at work when all there is to snack on is Tim Horton's and vending machines and chocolates. Note to self: bring more snacks to work.)

Goal:Weight - So I'm pretty much not going to hit 170 lb by the end of the year.  Right now, I just want to be below 190 lb.  I think if I can keep up the workouts (and running) and really pay attention to what I eat I can actually lose this weight during the Christmas season.  Yeah!

Goal:Pants - I meant to take a picture on Thursday night of how my jeans are fitting but I ran out of time.  After December 13 my life gets much calmer, so I'll check it out then.

Goal:Dress - See above.

Goal:Debt - I currently owe $6,725.44 ($5416.01 + $1,309.43).  I racked up huge amounts of overtime but unfortunately it wasn't logged in time to be added to my next paycheque (which I get tomorrow).  So it's two more weeks before my 30+ hours (!) of overtime are added, but when it does come it will be a nice amount to add to my loans.  I'm close...so close!  The other upside is that I'm done all my Christmas shopping so any extra cash that comes my way will be able to go on loans.  Even if my scale number isn't going down, this number is and I'm so proud of that!

So that's where I stand with 22 days left in this year.  What will I be able to cross off this list in the next three weeks?  I'll let you know!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Late to the party

Hey kids, it's me.  Late again.  And I'm going to be even later with my goals update because not only am I still at work (at 9pm on a Friday) but I'm also out of town for the weekend.  I'll be back Sunday night at which time I'll let you know how well (or not) I'm doing.

Until then, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I hate the scale

And the scale hates me.

I'm going to do another goals update tomorrow so I'll add my weigh-in update to that.  Needless to say, not impressed by the number on the scale and unsure how one gains that much weight in two weeks.

Le sigh.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Um...where did the week go?

I woke up this morning all excited it was Friday and realized - I didn't get on the scale on Wednesday.  I didn't even think about getting on the scale.  In fact, I barely even noticed I missed my weekly weigh-in.

Why?  It's been a nutsy week at work.  We finished a regular issue on Tuesday and we're currently working on our Newsmakers issue, which goes to the printer today so we've done two magazines in a week, which is not the norm.  Hence my life not being any kind of norm.  Though I have managed to get home most nights this week before the Beau went to bed, which is always nice.  There have been work weeks where I haven't seen him awake for three days at a time. 

But back to the weigh-in: I'm just going to let it go and get back on track next week.  After all, why stress about that kind of thing?  The world will not end if I don't get on a scale. 

Happy Friday everyone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #34

As seems to be the routine of late, I weigh myself on Wednesdays but don't update here until a few days later.  And it was a bittersweet weigh-in, that's for sure.

Last week: 196.6 lb
This week: 193.6 lb

Sweet because I'm down 3 lb but bitter because I'm still annoyed I have to lose that extra 6 lb that I put on over a weekend (apparently).  Still, the number is going the right way this week and that's what matters. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Disappointment

I don't deal well with disappointment.

I recently knit the Beau a shawl-collar cardigan.  I showed him the pattern, got his approval on the colour and went to town.  It took me about a month to complete the project and, to look at it, it looks great.  The problem?  It doesn't fit all that well, particularly through the body (it's too big).  Even though the Beau has professed his love for the sweater, seeing it fitting him improperly sent me into a tailspin of misery and self-loathing.

I'd measured - how could I have failed so badly?  Why hadn't I checked the size earlier?  Why did I even think I could knit a sweater that fit?  I was so upset that we couldn't talk about the sweater for three days, and when we did finally talk about it, it was a tens conversation. 

I was just so disappointed in myself and I felt like a huge failure.

I'm a self-taught knitter and I'm proud of my knitting skills.  But it's also something I'm good at.  Of the talents I have (perceived or otherwise) not many are showcase-able: I can't sing or play an instrument; I'm not a dancer; there's no sport at which I'm good enough to join a team or league; I haven't been able to become a 5K-a-weekend runner; I'm smart but not the kind of smart that can participate in serious conversations about important issues (like politics, the environment, business/finance, etc.); even at work, my job isn't prestigious enough to earn a byline or any kind of recognition beyond my name in tiny font in the masthead.

I am a knitter; it feels like all I've got.  So when a knitting project doesn't work out, it's a huge failure for me.  And it's not even recognition that I want (though that's always nice), it's that I want people to say about me, "Oh, she's the so-and-so who can do this-and-that." 

(I also bake and regularly receive accolades for my baking, which is lovely, but I don't bake that much because it's hard finding people to eat it, what with people being health-conscious and such.)

So back to the knitting.  And it's not like it's something I can regale people with.  I don't break out the needles so they can watch me knit the way you'd watch someone show off new dance steps or listen to someone spontaneously start caroling while out Christmas shopping.  I'm not going to take the nephews into the backyard to show them how to purl the way someone might show them how to kick a soccer ball.  I guess I just want to feel like I'm talented and when the one thing I think I'm good at I'm suddenly not good at, well, it hurts.  A lot.

I'm knitting two more sweaters for Christmas, one for my brother and one for my mom.  I'm now much less confident in my ability to get them to fit so we'll see how they turn out. 


Monday, November 14, 2011

Off the hooch

I've decided to stop drinking.  I've done this in the past and enjoyed it when I was on the wagon and I want to do it again.

Why?, you may ask.

In the past, when I've taken a booze break, some people have viewed my decision as a tacit condemnation of their own drinking habits and insisted on me having even just one.  And that's not it at all.  There are three reasons why I'm doing this:

1.  Drinking doesn't make me have more fun 
In fact, the more I drink in one sitting the less likely I am to remember any fun I've had.  I'd much rather be able to recall a deep/hilarious/thoughtful conversation than say, "I was so drunk last night I don't remember a thing!"

2.  I feel like crap the day after and I lose that day
My hours are pretty intense so my weekends mean a lot to me.  When I tie one on, I'm on the couch the next day and pretty much out of commission.  While there's nothing wrong with a day on the couch, I'd rather it be by choice, not necessity.

3.  All those extra calories
Alcohol has calories, which is bad, but the post-drinking hangover food also kills my diet ambitions.  Yesterday I ate eggs with mushroom gravy, a panzerotto, chicken pieces, party mix and Miss Vickie's chips.  Not a stellar diet by any stretch.

Now, you may be noticing that as I talk about my drinking habits I'm pretty much an all-or-nothing girl.  And it's not that I can't stop after one drink.  It's that when I'm in a situation where there are drinks it's the kind of situation where no one stops after one.  So here's where I add a caveat: I will still have a glass of wine with dinner or at a celebration.  But just one.  And only on special occasions.  And, let's face it, we're on the cusp of the season of special occasions.  There will be family dinners, friends' birthdays, New Year's Eve - and I will have a drink to mark these festivities and that's it.

I don't judge other when they imbibe for a night and I won't become judgmental just because I'm not joining in.  But for the reasons listed above, it's the right thing for me to do now.  And I'll toast to that.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #33

Okay, I had an indulgent weekend.  It was the Beau's birthday last Friday and we went all-out with the food and drink.  So I was expecting a bit of a gain, but I wasn't ready for this:

Last week: 192.0
This week: 196.6

Seriously!?  I gained 4.6 lb!?  NOT IMPRESSED with this.  I also didn't believe my scale and got on it a few times.  I'm also getting on it again tomorrow because this just feels wrong. 

Also, I went grocery shopping today and have a fridge full of grapes, cucumbers, carrots, kale, red peppers, apples, oranges, green beans and Greek yogurt (which I've discovered I love).  Next week's weigh-in will be MUCH better!

Oh, and I started with Relora on Sunday night and I can definitely say I'm sleeping better.  I also feel more relaxed but I'm not sure if that's the supplements or my brain having placebo effect.  Still, I'm happy with how it's going - even though it's only been three days. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 Goal Update #3 and Up-Down Weigh-in #32

 Once again, I"m so late on my goal updates, but it's been a busy few days.  The Beau's birthday was on Friday so we took the day off and explored some neighbourhoods we're considering moving to next year (yup, we hope to buy a house).  Then we had all kinds of meals out, did some errands and went out with friends last night so it's been a great, yet busy, weekend.

Anyways, enough excuses; here's the goal breakdown and my weigh-in for this past Wednesday.

Goal:Plank - Again, not a single plank done in October.  This is officially over. 

Goal:Run - I haven't gone for a run in a couple of weeks, as I was training for my CN Tower stair climb and then battled a cold.  The plan is to get back into it tomorrow.  My current distance is 4.25 km, which is 0.25 km less than I wanted by this point but missing two weeks of running will do that to a person.  I still want to hit 5 km by the end of November so I'm going to keep aiming for that.

Goal:Food - Again, not really doing this.  I'm trying to keep track in my head but it's just not working.  Tomorrow's Monday and a great day to start with the food journal again.  This is something I really need to get back on track with.

Goal:Weight - My last weigh-in on Wednesday had me at 192 lb, so no change from the previous week but I'm still not making the losses I need to hit my target.  But like the running, I'm just going to keep trying. 

Goal:Pants - No dice. 

Goal:Dress - Please see Goal:Pants.  Sigh.

Goal:Debt - My current debt load is $7,822.72.  THIS is the number I really want to see go down and I've got a nice paycheque coming next week, with some ridiculous overtime on it.  That will give me a nice chunk to put on my CIBC loan, on which I owe $2,255.12.  This is the one I really want cleared by the end of the year, even if I can't hit my target of only having $5,000 owing. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mora on Relora

Remember when I wrote about Relora?  Well I finally bought some today.  I ordered it online from Well.ca, mostly because it's hard to find time to check out various drugstores but also because it was so much easier and allowed me to stop procrastinating.  And I could have it by the end of the week - delivery (which is free) takes 1-3 days. 

I'm trying really hard to not get my hopes up that it will magically solve a bunch of perceived problems because I do stuff like that.  But it's worth a shot, right?  I'll let you know how it goes.

A new month

Holy crap, it's November 1st.  When did that happen?!  It always throws me off when November starts with a bright sunny day because, in my mind, November is gray and dreary and full of dead tree limbs and fallen leaves.  But not today!  It's beautiful outside!

Being the first of November, it also means I'm due for another 2011 goals update, which I'll do tomorrow.  And I'm thinking the update will be much like the previous ones, with some progress being made in some areas and not much progress being made in others.

But you know what?  I'm okay with that

With the goals I've outlined things I want to achieve and where I want to be in my life but I'm slowly realizing that reaching those goals doesn't define me.  Heck, even the journey to reaching those goals doesn't define me.  They are simply things I'd like to get to, one day.  I've just put it to a schedule because, well, that's what I do.

I'm not going to be disappointed in myself if I don't fit into my purple dress or hit my target weight or even get to 5km in my running.  I'm just going to keep working at it until I get there.  I honestly can't explain when this new outlook came over me, but I'm enjoying it.  I mean, there was a moment yesterday when I thought, "Maybe I'll fudge my weigh-in just a bit, just in case I've gained a lot because I don't want to look like a failure."  But why lie?  I am who I am, at whatever size I may be. 

But - more importantly - I'm really having a good time lately.  Sure, work has been intense but I've been spending time with friends and family, enjoying the great outdoors, knitting up a storm, cuddling my kitty and spending as much quality time with the Beau as I can. 

Life is really good, and that's the best goal to achieve.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween!

I love Halloween!  I love the costumes and decorations and excited kids and - who am I kidding? - the CANDY.  We live in a condo right now so I miss having kids come trick-or-treating but we'll be in a house soon enough and we'll be able to indulge in that.

But every year, I always want to dress up and every year I spend so much time thinking about what to be - and this year was no exception.  I have a couple of rule when it comes to my costume: 1. Nothing sexy.  2.  Must be recognizable.

Still, I have trouble every year coming up with something good.  This year, I had my heart set on being Bellatrix Lestrange, as portrayed by Helena Bonham-Carter in the Harry Potter movies:

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and I've never dressed up as any character, despite loving the books and movies for over 10 years now.  So I was all ready to go looking for Bellatrix supplied when my fervor started to wane.  It just didn't feel right.  The last Potter movie came out in July and the excitement behind it all seems to be dwindling.  I guess I missed my Potter costume window 10 years ago.

So this led me to having no idea what I would be, until a Google search for "notable women" led me to a Wikipedia page listing important women in history and, under actors, I saw Julie Andrews.  Which led me to this:

MARY FREAKING POPPINS!  OH YEAH!  Only my favourite movie as a child, this seemed like a no-brainer (and I don't know why I didn't think of this before).  And it's pretty easy to be Mary Poppins - except for the hat.  That damned hat.  Oddly enough, October is not the time of year to look for a hat such a Mary's.  If you want a beret or toque or even fedora, you can take your pick, but the flat-topped bowler-like possibly-straw hat?  No dice.  But - BUT - I did manage to find a black felt hat at Goodwill that, with a little manipulation, worked out perfectly.  Et voila:

You can't really see the hat detail here, but it is adorned with flowers, just like Mary's, and is perched nicely on my head.  Oh, and the hat was lovingly crafted by the Beau!  I've been fighting a cold all week and wasn't sure I'd be able to make the party last night but decided yesterday I was good to go.  However, being at work until 8pm meant no time to make a hat - so the Beau was good enough to construct it for me.  He is a man of many talents!

Costume complete, we headed out to the party and had a great time.  I'm so glad I felt good enough to go out because I think I did all right as "practically perfect in every way" Mary Poppins!

I also had the perfect way to get home:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Student loan update

It's been awhile since I've checked in on my student loans so I took some time today to do so.

My main priority right now is to pay off the last loan I have with CIBC, as it's the lowest balance of the remaining two and because I really don't want to have to deal with CIBC anymore.  (We just never got along.)

The current balance of my CIBC loan: $2,409.76

I made a payment two days ago (and I don't know if it's been applied yet) and another automatic payment will go through on Monday; these payments will either lower my total owing by $60 or $160.  I'm kind of hoping it's the latter, as that will help that much more. 

The $100 I put on the loan was in response to me wanting to buy two new shirts - but instead of buying the shirts I took that money and put it toward my loans as I said I'd do.  I've been doing my best to be diligent and only buy what I need, which is why it's taken me so long to make a payment like this.  But I'm proud of myself for living up to my own standard! 

Another reason it's so important to me to pay down this loan is because I'm charged interest daily.  Yup, daily.  But my interest rate is 5.5%, so my actual charge is lower as my balance gets lower.  Back in August, with a balance of $3,981.35 I was paying $0.60/day in interest.  Today, with my balance at $2,409.76 I'm paying $0.36/day in interest - and that's a big difference. 

But it's not just the CIBC loan I'm paying down.  I'm also working away at my second (and last) National Student Loan Service Centre loan. 

Current balance with NSLSC: $5,561.22
Current interest rate: $0.80/day

THAT is some steep interest to be paying - almost a dollar a day!  I'm currently only paying the minimum payment on this loan until I finish with CIBC; then all extra monies get rolled together to pay this baby down! 

And to meet my goal of only having $5,000 of loan left by the end of 2011, I need to pay off another $2,970.98 by the end of this year.  I will say right now that this is starting to feel a little daunting but I've got some overtime moolah coming my way and that will go nicely on the loan.  But I have to be careful because Christmas is also coming up and I love Christmas!  It's so hard for me to not spoil everyone I love with gobs of presents. 

But as long as I'm careful and frugal and pay attention to what I'm spending I can do this!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #31

You know how I was dreading getting on the scale this morning?  Part of me wanted to skip it, to just say I'm sick and didn't feel like it, but that's too much of a cop-out.

So I got on the scale, all nervous - and the results:

Last week: 192.4 lb
This week: 192.0 lb

Down 0.4 lb!  Despite all that awful food I ate, I still lost almost half a pound.  So I'm still going down but I realized something this morning: I've only got two months left to hit my goal weight of 170 lb and losing half a pound a week won't get me there.

This led me to ask myself, do I reset my year-end target weight or do I go hardcore to drop the 22 lb?  It's tempting to try some lose-weight-fast solution to get down to my goal but I know I won't be able to sustain any kind of plan like that and it's not worth hitting 170 lb only to gain a bunch of weight back.  But I also don't want to short-change myself by changing my goal weight, because that's where I want to be and even if I don't get there by December 31 I still want to get there.

So I'm going to stand pat with my target and just keep working.

I've been toying with the idea of joining Weight Watchers online for awhile now; I know some women who have used/are using this program to great success and I have no doubt it would work for me.  The thing is, I feel guilty spending money on this when I still have debts to pay off.  My current weight isn't causing me any health-related problems, nor is it keeping me from doing anything I want to do (I'm still running!), so losing weight is for me, not for any other reason.  I was planning to join Weight Watchers once my debt was gone, but maybe I should look at the numbers again.

And with all the overtime I put in last week, I'll have a nice paycheque soon and that will help the debt.  Surely I can find the money for Weight Watchers?

I'll let you know what I work out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ugh.

That's all I've got - ugh.

Started feeling icky last night and woke up this morning with a scratchy throat and stuffy head.  I didn't have to work today because of all my hours last week, but I can think of better ways to spend a day off.  Plus, my ear is sore and when combined with a scratchy throat it makes me fearful of strep throat.  I haven't had strep in awhile but it pretty much always starts like this.  Le sigh.  Hopefully I'm better by tomorrow.

Also, not looking forward to the scale tomorrow as I've eaten like awful this past week.  Pizza, lasagna, red wine, chocolate croissant, bacon dip with chips - so good at the time but so bad come Wednesday morning. 

And because I'm sick I'm whiny so right now everything is all kinds of ugh. 

UGH.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stair climb complete!

I did it!  This morning I successfully climbed the stairs of the CN Tower, clocking a very respectable time of 27 minutes, 12 seconds.  Let me just say, it was exhausting.  I'm still pretty tired, 3 1/2 hours after completing the climb, but I feel so good.  I'm proud of myself for doing it and my goal is to make this a yearly event and to work on lowering my time.

But the most important thing about the climb was all the money that was raised for United Way.  It felt so good to contribute to that and to see so many other climbers out today, contributing their energy and fundraising efforts. 

What a great day!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #30

I weighed myself yesterday, I really did.  I then went to work and worked for 14 hours and had no time to blog and was too exhausted when I got home to think of anything other than sleep - and that is why you're getting my weight update (updeight?) now.

Last week: 192.4 lb
This week: 192.4 lb

I think this is the first time ever there has been no change in my weight.  This is good because it didn't go up but I'd still prefer if it went down.  C'est la vie.

I've read in countless places that stress contributes to weight gain, as stress triggers the production of cortisol, which encourages the body to store fat.  And as I posted earlier, I'm a great big stress ball.  I worry about stuff I said and did in high school.  HIGH SCHOOL.  I know I'm insane and I know I need to work on it but I just don't have the time or - apparently - the willingness to seek any kind of help. 

I know that exercise helps relieve stress and it does help me, but I can't go off for a run every time something stressful pops up - and that can be very often in my life (mostly because I make stress mountains out of stress molehills).  Eating right and sleeping right also help, and I do my best with this, but it doesn't always work.  Though I recently came across an article in Chatelaine, extolling the virtues of Relora to help relieve stress and reduce cortisol levels.  Since seeing this I've wanted to pick some up and see if it helps - but I haven't gotten my lazy butt around to it yet.

Finding Relora is going to be my next goal.  That and cutting back on my fibre.  I've been eating Bran Flakes all week and I've been all bloated and gassy and gross.  Blech.  Guess I'll have to stick to fruit and veg - it's such a hard life!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tell me why I don't like Mondays

We're entering a really busy time at work and the first busy season I've experienced since starting my new job and I'm terrified.  By this time next Friday, we will have put out about 200 pages of editorial material and over 300 magazine pages in two issues.  It's a lot of  volume and I've got to know what's happening with each edit page each step of the way and make sure they all get done on time.

And I'm freaking out.

I've spent all weekend stressing about it.  I worked 13 hours on Friday and I'm looking at at least that pretty much every day this coming week.  I'm not complaining about the hours (I used to waitress so long hours are old hat to me) but I'm so worried about getting it all done and not screwing something up.  I'm so worried about getting in trouble from my manager for not doing the right thing.  I'm so worried about not knowing the right answer when asked.

Even as I'm sitting here typing this I'm fighting a panic attack.  I'm actually thinking I'd rather be outrunning zombies in The Walking Dead, which the Beau is currently watching.
I'd rather face this than next week at work.

I've even been thinking about looking for a new job.  I haven't even been in my current role for a year and I already want out.  Want to know why?  Because I'm scared and I don't always know what I'm doing and I hate that.  I want to be an expert and I want to be an expert now.  I know I have lots to learn and I know I'm in a tough job but I want to feel like I'm in control and that I know how to do it and I don't feel that way.

But since I need to work I'll swallow my fear and get up each day and go in and do the best I can and keep hoping that it all works out in the end.  And maybe after this next week, when things are over and have worked out, I'll feel a bit better about myself.

Just five more days.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #29 - better late than never!

Remember last week how annoyed I was with my stupid weight gain?  Well...

Last week: 193.6
This week: 192.4

I'm down 1.2 lb!  Honestly, not too shabby for a post-Thanksgiving weigh-in.  I'm still working at eating well but I haven't been at the gym as much as I'd like - work has suddenly decided to be crazy, stupid, 16-hour-day, can't-leave-my-desk busy.  But I have to go tomorrow; my back is killing me.  If I don't lift weights regularly my back can't deal and gets all achy.  I blame my bosoms.

But even with the weight creeping down, I'm not doing any better with the Goal:Pants:

Hello, muffin top.
Or my Goal:Dress:

Again, I blame my bosoms.

But you can't win them all - as long as I keep losing weight all will be good!

Friday, October 7, 2011

2011 Goal Update #2

It's that time again - to see how I'm doing on my 2011 goals.  And I'm so late on doing this update.  So late.  I wanted to do this sooner; I even started writing this post last week. But then my life got supercalifragilisticexpiali-busy and, well, here we are, updating super late.  Such is life.  Anyhoo, here's the latest rundown:

Goal:Plank - I did not do a single plank in September.  This is because I quickly realized how much I hate doing planks.  HATE.  In all honesty, I don't see me continuing on with this, but I'll give it October before I admit defeat.

Goal:Run - I was having a tough go of it for a bit in September while running: I wasn't able to get anywhere near the distance I needed to meet my goals and I was tiring easily.  But I was able to rebound and I've hit my 4km goal!  Again, it's not four consecutive kilometres, but I'm running four of them all the same.  My current run workout is to walk 0.25 km then run 1 km, for a total distance of 5 km.  This is working out well so far and I'm hoping to slowly turn those walking sections into running sections as I aim for 4.5 km by the end of October.  Still on track!

Goal:Food - Also something I stopped doing was logging my food.  I've signed up for no less than four online food journals and ALL OF THEM are pains in the ass.  The problem with the online journals is that they depend on users to enter foods and the nutritional values.  If a food item isn't entered, you can create it but you need to know the nutritional info for it and that's not the easiest thing, especially if you're eating non-packaged food.  So I'm going back to my pen and paper journal and just writing everything down.  I want to see a nutritionist this month so I'll have something to show for that appointment without spending hours on the computer to log three meals.

Goal:Weight - My goal is to be at 170 lb and on my last update, I was 22.4 lb away from that (and needed to lose 5.6 lb/month).  Today, I'm at 190.2 lb which is 20.2 lb away from my goal.  The good news is that I'm moving in the right direction.  The less-than-good news is that I didn't lose 5.6 lb last month, so now I have to lose 6.7 lb/month to hit my final goal.  While this is still doable, it's at the high end of steady weight loss.  But I'm not going to let that get me down - I'm going to keep trying!

Goal:Pants - I'll provide photo evidence next week.  I simply have not had time to try them on in the past week.  I'm so lame.

Goal:Dress - Please see Goal:Pants.  Blargh.

Goal:Debt - I currently owe $9,162.21, which is $672.88 less than last month's total owing.  I'm also (of course) waiting on more money to be applied to the loan, which will bring it down by another $400 - and bring it under $9,000!  That will mean only $3,762.21 left to pay off this year.  I'm feeling a little less confident right now about hitting my goals, but I should also be racking up some overtime this fall so hopefully that will give me the boost I need.

Overall, the numbers that I want to go down (my weight and my debt) are going down and the number that I want to go up (my running distance) is going up. As for my clothes, check in with me on Wednesday, 'kay?  I promise I'll have something by then!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #28

I was dreading getting on the scale today.  After my near success last week at cracking 190 lb, I was a little anxious to see what I'd weigh in at this week.  So...

Last week: 190.1 lb
This week: 193.6 lb

EFF.  How did I manage to gain 3.5 lb in a week?!?!  I didn't eat all that badly.  I mean, I had a huge brownie with chocolate ganache and ice cream; short ribs poutine; a turkey burger and sweet potato fries from Hero Burger; about four servings worth of pasta; a plateful of Chinese food; a plateful of Indian food; and maybe an apple fritter. 

Oh.  That may have done it. 

My self-sabotaging strikes again!  I'm pretty disappointed with myself but it's a much-needed wake-up call.  I can't take even a 0.1 lb loss for granted; I need to stick with this and keep going and be positive and make the right choices. 

And I just need to make sure I lose 4 lb this week, right?  Right!  (Yeesh.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Keep your eyes on the size

I was flipping through the November issue of Flare at work tonight and came across an article about vanity sizing, by Hannah Sung.  I found this really interesting:
"I went shopping for roomier pants.  The pair that fit were marked size 27, smaller than my pre-baby size of 28 or 29.  I dug out a measuring tape...My size 27 jeans? They actually measure 34 inches."
While I'm pretty sure I should also measure my pants, I really don't want to.   With all the size anxiety I have I don't need to add to it.  But still, this is crazy.

The magazine is on newsstands October 10 if you want to pick it up - or check out the website around that time to see if it's posted there.

Not so fast

I have a big problem with fasts.  I know there are many people who swear by them and if they feel comfortable fasting, I'm not going to stop them.  But I really think they're more harmful than helpful.

To be honest, in the past I've thought about doing a fast or a cleanse and been all starry-eyed at the promise of fast and safe weight loss and all the other wonderful things that apparently happen to your body when you fast or cleanse.  But there are a few things that have always stopped me:

- if a cleanse promises to get rid of all the toxins in my body, how does it know what's good and bad?  I mean, lemon water with cayenne pepper coursing through my body isn't going to stop to check if bacteria is good or bad; it's just going to flush it all out. 

- my body already does a good job of getting rid of the things I don't need.  After all, that's why I poop.

- any weight lost will be put right back on as soon as I start eating normal amounts of calories so why put myself through the weight yo-yo-ing?

- by only consuming certain foods or liquids, what am I depriving my body of?  What nutrients am I not getting? 

I've been reading some blog posts by someone doing a juice fast and she's writing about her entire body hurting for the past two days.  How is this a good thing?  Why would you want to continue on something that makes your body hurt?  Is losing 5 pounds really worth it? 

Again, this is just my opinion and if you feel differently, I respect that.  Personally, I don't think they're worth it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #27

Wow, have I really been at this for 27 weeks?  I guess longer than that, since I took the month of July off from the scale. 

So how am I doing after 27 weeks?  Well...

Last week: 191.0 lb
This week: 190.2 lb

The good news is that it's a loss.  The bad news is that I'm 0.3 lb away from breaking the 190 lb barrier.  ARGH! 

But - BUT - check this out: when I started my weight loss challenge, I weighed in at 200.2 lb.  I've now officially lost 10 lb.  It's only taken me eight months to get this far, but still - 10 lb down! 

Of course it seems daunting to think I can lose 20 lb in the next three months but I'm going to keep at it.  I would love to see the number on the scale drop faster but one important thing I've been learning while trying to lose weight is that I'm only going to be able to maintain my success if I make changes that work with my lifestyle.  And that's the big thing, isn't it?  It's more important for me to be able to maintain my weight and even keep the scale inching down than it is for me to lose huge amounts of weight in a short period of time. 

I'd still like to be at 170 lb on New Year's Eve, but it's okay if I'm not because I'm doing things in my life that I can keep doing, whether it's making the right food choices, fitting in regular exercise, watching my portions or even cutting sugar out of my coffee (which has been a challenge, let me tell you). 

So let's see what the next three months bring!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A little goes a long way

So I've finally managed to get myself set up to pay down my CIBC loan online and, I must say, I took the long, hard, kind of dumb way to get there.

I've never had internet banking set up with CIBC because I've always had direct debit arranged for my loan payments.  Because I've only been paying the minimum amount until very recently, it never mattered that I didn't have internet access.  Now, though, I've got more money to put on the bugger and I wanted immediate access, dammit!  So I decided to do it through CIBC - which led to me having to get a new internet banking password and then a new debit card because I couldn't make my password sync with my debit card and then to log on I needed my account number and transit number (which I should know but don't) and then I lost my debit card and had to get a new one...and THEN I realized I can add my CIBC loan account as a payee in my online account with Royal Bank and suddenly an internetical connection is made.

Sheesh.  Why did it take me so long to figure this out again?

Anyways...now that I've got the online connection, I've hatched a new plan to pay that sucker down and not spend on frivolous things.  See, when I get paid every two weeks I figure out what I need to pay from that cheque, make my payments and leave a bit in the bank as buffer, because you never know when something might pop up.  But then, because I had this extra money just sitting there, I'd buy a new shirt here and a pair of earring there and a new book and before long, that extra money was spent on things I wanted but didn't really need.

The new plan?  Whenever I see something I want (but explicitly do NOT need), instead of buying it I'm going to make a note of how much I would have spent and promptly put that amount on my loan. 

It's a good plan.  I earn interest daily on my loan and I have unlimited transactions with my RBC account, so this is really a win-win situation.  Even if it's $10, it still counts and will only benefit me. 

However, like most of my good plans, the theory is strong but the practice is weak.  I hope to turn that around with this one!

Oh, and right now my overall balance owing is $9,661.86 but I just made some payments that I'm still waiting to go through, so that should change the number a bit. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CN Tower Stair Climb for United Way

I've wanted to do the CN Tower stair climb for awhile now but I never have, mostly out of laziness.  So this year, I finally signed up and joined the corporate team at work.  On October 20, I will be climbing the 1,776 stairs of the CN Tower to raise money for United Way. 

If you're interested in sponsoring me, you can go here and donate.  But I know people have to be careful with their money and may already have charities they support, so only donate if you want.  I'm also accepting moral support and any training tips you might have - it's going to be a long climb!

I'm doing my first training session today by climbing the stairwell in my condo a few times.  I'll let you know tomorrow if I can walk.

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #26

Let's get right to it:

Last week: 191.6 lb
This week: 191.0 lb

That's a loss of 0.6 lb, which is the right direction but I'm still not doing what I need to do.  And we're halfway through September, meaning I've got just over three months to lose 21 lb.  It's time to make the hardest decision I think I've ever had to make:

No.  More.  Sweets.

I'm pretty sure that's what's doing me in.  I've got a sweet tooth and a HUGE weakness for chocolate and cookies, particularly together.  (There's a reason I don't make chocolate chip cookies at home anymore.  I eat way too many of them.)

Other than sweets, I know I'm making better choices than I used to and I'm making an effort to really watch my portion sizes. 

I'm also going to try to get used to drinking my coffee without sugar.  This is going to be a challenge, for sure, but I'd like to do this for a week and see what the results are like.  Because I REALLY want to be below 190 lb next week!

Well sugar, it's been nice knowing you...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #25

I'll admit, I was a little nervous to get on the scale this morning, after my ice cream binge on Sunday and some other bad choices this past week.  But I manned up and got on that scale anyways and the results?

Last week: 191.8 lb
This week: 191.6 lb

0.2 lb down.  Makes me wonder what I might have done had it not been for that delicious, delicious rocky road ice cream.  Though I'm now 1.7 lb away from finally breaking the 190 lb barrier and I really want to get past that.  So for the next week, I'm going to really pay attention to what I'm eating and make sure I fit in my workouts. 

I can do this!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: River City

I started the Canadian Book Challenge on a strong note: two book reviews in the first month, and two books that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I foolishly thought I could keep that momentum going, regardless of whichever book I picked up next.

How wrong I was.

The reason I have not yet posted another review is because I chose River City by John Farrow as my next read.  It sounded intriguing: set in Montreal in the 1950s and starting with the Rocket Richard riots, it's about the mysterious Cartier Dagger (Jacques Cartier, that is) and its involvement in a murder during the riots.  Now, I like hockey and I like murder mysteries and I've not read many books set in la belle province so this piqued my interest.  However, I made one huge mistake: I bought the e-book for my Kobo.

Now, I love reading on my Kobo and I've bought many books for it.  The problem is that I don't look at the page count of the books I buy, mostly because it's not listed in the Kobo store but also because it doesn't much matter; one book page does not equal one Kobo page.  This has never tripped me up before but then I've never bought an e-book that is over 700 pages in hard copy.

That's a lotta pages, yo.

I'm not afraid of long books (I have, after all, read The Stand) but if I'm going to read a long book I would like it to be a good book.  And that is where River City falls down - it's not that good.

This is a book that would have benefited greatly from a braver editor, someone who was willing to slash and trash.  My Kobo pages aren't big, but I don't need 100+ page chapters.  There is a great story to tell here, but there's too much meandering.  It reminded me of all the things I dislike about Victorian literature.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the book also switches back and forth between 1950s Montreal and the original settlement of Quebec and Montreal by French explorers, starting with Cartier and going through Champlain, Montmagny and I'm sure others that I just haven't got to.  I think this is part of the
"hook" of the book but I just find it annoying.  I read Susannah Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush in university and never wanted to revisit it again; this book brought me right back there.  Also, I didn't feel like the two story lines from "then" and "now" worked together fluidly; it was like reading two different novels spliced together.

One last irritant in the book: Farrow jumps from one scene/situation to the next too suddenly.  I'm reading along and hit a scene where two people are chatting in a cafe and in the next paragraph, one of those people is down by the docks roughing someone up.  Maybe it's bad digital formatting and not bad writing, but it's still irritating.

So I put the book down and picked up Agatha Christie, who I have decided is like literary amuse bouche.  Once my palate is properly cleansed I'll get back on the Canadian Book Challenge horse, though I'm not sure what I'll read next - any recommendations?

(I'm also not counting this as a full review, so I'm still at 2/13.  Perhaps I'll feel sorry for this book and pick it up again, finish it and properly review it - though that doesn't feel likely.)


Monday, September 12, 2011

Money guilt

I've been making great progress on paying off my student loans, but I still get money guilt and it's been growing lately.

Maybe it's because Christmas is coming, maybe it's because the end of the year is coming, maybe it's because I'm lusting after brown knee-high boots, but every time I think about buying something I feel like I should be putting that money towards my loans.  I'm also really close to getting another paid off, with only about $3,800 left on it and I want it gone so badly. 


September is a three-pay month for me, which is always lovely and which will mean more money on my loans.  But I'm also putting a chunk into my savings account (it's a high-interest account but since my interest rate is only 2%, it just feels wrong calling that "high interest") to help offset the expense of the holiday season.  Not only will this cover gifts, but also the baking and traveling and other expenses that pop up.  I've also already started my Christmas shopping and have ideas of what else I need to get.  Some people would say this is early.  (Okay, most people would say this is early.)  But for me and my money, I find it helps to spread the costs across a few months rather than try to afford everything in December.  Plus, it means I'm not rushing at the end so I'm not over-spending. 

See, I've got things in control...only I'm feeling really guilty.  The Beau and I were at Dixie Outlet Mall on the weekend to hit up the Michael's (this girl needed yarn!) and we decided to walk through the mall as well.  Of course I found a bunch of things I want, including lots of nice soft sweaters at the Jacob outlet.  ($17.50!  I'll take one in each colour please!)  However, I did not buy a thing.  I felt guilty.  I don't need any more soft sweaters; my closet is full.  Some of my sweaters need to be defuzzed, sure, but then they'll be good as new for another season. 

But I'm a girl who loves a deal and it's just so tempting

Without spending a dime I still felt guilty.  I guess it's because I have this money sitting in my account "just in case" that I'm not putting on my loans but that is there, encouraging me to spend.  I know I should put it all either in my "high interest" account or just move it to my debt now, but what if I need to [fill in the blank]? 

So I've got a plan.  But I'm not going to share it just yet; I need to do something else first and that won't happen until day-off Wednesday, so I'll fill you in then.  In my head it's a great idea.  It's just making it work in practice that will be the challenge.

I did a bad, bad thing

Last night, I ate an entire container of Haagen Dazs rocky road ice cream.

Only 1,200 calories.  

Eep.

(But it was so delicious!)

And I don't even like marshmallows that much - but in ice cream, all melty and gooey and cold....SO GOOD.  

The Beau also ate a container on his own: cookie dough.  There is a reason we don't keep a lot of sweets and snacky food in the house and this is it.  But this isn't something we do regularly, so I'm not going to be too hard on myself.  I'm just going to eat lots and LOTS of veggies over the next few days.

But that marshmallow...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #24 and the laziest Wednesday ever

Yesterday was my day off but the Beau was at a sales conference all day and out for dinner with his coworkers, so I didn't have to worry about making dinner.  In fact, I didn't have to worry about anything at all.  I got out of bed at 11:30 (after going to bed at 3 am) and proceeded to sit on the couch and watch Midsomer Murders all day.  We had a backlog of eight episodes recorded on the PVR, so I just watched them all.  And it was glorious.

I did also find time to hop on the scale.  The results?

Last week:  192.4
This week:  191.8

It's only 0.6 lb, but it's a loss.  Woot! 

And it's been a super long week at work so I'm really looking forward to the weekend.  Oh Friday, you are so welcome!

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 Goal Update #1

Again, I missed updating my goal statuses on Wednesday, but that's okay because I'm going to do it now!  (Only five days late.  Sheesh.)  So, how am I doing?

Goal:Plank - I'm not going to lie: I didn't do a single plank in Halifax.  I wanted to do one every day for the month of August and, at the end of the month, I was about 60% on that.  Also, I have not done a single one yet in September.  But today is only the 5th so I can start today and still do well this month.  Also, I always find it easier to reset and start again after Labour Day; now that summer is over, it's time to get back into a regular routine.  (I think I still feel this way because I'm still at an age where, for more than half my life, Labour Day marked the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year, so it still feels like a fresh start.)

Goal:Run - in my quest to be able to run 5km, I wanted to increase my mileage (kilometreage?) to 3.5 km by the end of August.  On my last run, I did hit 3.5 km, but it wasn't consecutive; I had to take some walking breaks in between.  But I'm going to take it!  To stay on track, I need to be at 4 km by the end of September and I'm going to keep at it.  I'm right on track!

Goal:Food - as I've mentioned before, I've switched from my hard copy food journal to an online one.  I was doing really well with logging all my food and I had every intention of logging my food during vacation (thanks to a handy-dandy Blackberry app!) but it was a little too involved to do during vacation.  Because the food items and nutrition value depend on users entering information so it can mean A LOT of searching to find the right food at the right portion size.  So I didn't log a single thing while away.  Oops.  But I'm slowly getting back into it and it has been helping; seeing my calorie allotment for the day and watching it dwindle with each item I put in has really made me realize just how many calories get taken up by "just one" cookie.  I'm going to try to maintain this for at least September and hopefully by that point I'll be ready to make the right choices without having to log everything.

Goal:Weight - I'm 22.4 lb away from my goal of 170 lb.  With four months to go, that's 5.6 lb/month to lose.  How easy is that?!

Goal:Pants - not much change.  I was going to try them on and take another photo, but my stomach has been feeling gurgly and gross all weekend, so I'm avoiding anything too tight.

Goal:Dress - pretty much the same thing as the pants. 

Goal:Debt - I currently owe $9,835.09 and this month, there will be more money put towards that number.  I'm confident that I can hit my $5,000 owing by year-end.

All in all, I'm happy with how I'm doing.  It's a big challenge for me, trying to stick with a plan beyond a few weeks.  I always start out with such good intentions and I always fall off the wagon within a week or two.   And having a consistently-shrinking student loan balance will also help me because at least I'll be making headway towards one goal. 

So, tomorrow marks a big reset button for me.  Briefly I felt nostalgic for school and that back-to-school feeling.  Then I remembered how much I hated high school and how happy I am now with the Beau and the kitty and I'm just fine to have my own kind of back-to to do. 

Back to my goals!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #23

Okay, I'm finally back!

It has been quite the week, that's for sure.  While I love long weekends, it means we lose a day of production on the magazine so I've been pulling longer hours and I'll be working on Monday as well.  BOO.  But I've got other fun things planned for the weekend so that will help make up for it.

One thing I did make time for this week was to weigh in.  It has been two weeks since my last weigh-in and it would have been nice to be down a few pounds, but I did spend one of those weeks in Halifax, eating every bit of seafood I could find, including amazing lobster chowder, a lobster roll and a full lobster dinner (it wasn't all lobster though - I also found time to eat fish & chips, pan-seared haddock and caramelized scallops.  YUM.)

Pre-vacation weight: 192.2 lb
Post-vacation weight: 192.4 lb

You know, a 0.2 lb weight gain is something I can live with.  I wouldn't be surprised if that extra weight was because of him:


Friday, September 2, 2011

Update delayed

There's an update coming, I promise.  It's just I've spent this week being crazy busy at work and super tired at home (except for Wednesday, which I spent being crazy busy at home, then super tired at home).  I think it's post-vacation sluggishness, combined with not drinking six coffees a day, like I did on vacation.

But I'll post tomorrow morning, I promise!  I'd do it now but I'm still at work - and likely will be for a few hours more.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

We're home!

Oh it feels good to be home!  We drove from Halifax to Toronto yesterday - that's right, 20 1/2 hours in one day.  It was hella long but worth it; sleeping in my own bed last night was amazing!

Also amazing was our week in Halifax.  What a beautiful city!  Also, what a beautiful part of the country and what a beautiful drive.  I'll share some pictures and stories soon, but right now we have to go pick up our kitty!  I've missed her so much!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pre-vacation update

Since we're heading out at 6 am tomorrow and I'm at work today and I'm still not packed, there's not much time to post before we leave.  But...one major development happened today and I must share:

I PAID OFF ANOTHER STUDENT LOAN!

That's right, another one bites the dust!  I still have two more to go, one each with CIBC and the National Student Loan Service Centre, but I'm well on track with those ones.  The next one to pay off is the CIBC loan, as it's the lowest balance of the remaining two. 

Here's where I stand:

CIBC: $3,985.55
NSLSC: $5,849.54
TOTAL: $9,835.09

You know, it's kind of amazing to see this figure below $10,000.  And it feels so good to be on track!  It's also a nice feeling to feel so good about my loans before vacation; makes me feel less guilty about the spending we'll be doing over the next week (but it's money we have saved, so it's not like I'll be compromising my payments because I want lobster).

Okay, back to work now.  Our travel companions are arriving tonight around 8 pm and the Beau is off today to do the last-minute things, but I'm hoping to get out of work early today so I can help him out and, you know, pack and stuff. 

See y'all in a week!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

About those numbers...

So, remember the numbers I posted about awhile back?  Well, I've got a different perspective on those numbers now.  I just got back from seeing my doctor and when I told him I was keeping a food journal, he directed me to My Fitness Pal to log what I eat and how much I work out. 

Upon returning to my desk (armed with a salad for lunch, as much out of guilt as out of a desire to eat well) I signed up and got some different information.

To lose a pound a week, I have a daily limit of 1,520 calories.  Much lower than the approximate 2,000 I was given before.  I also have to work out five times a week for an hour to be able to eat that much; if I work out less, I eat less.  This feels a little daunting but I'll see how it goes.  The most important part is going to be seeing the calorie totals from what I eat.  There's also a mobile app for my Blackberry, so even while I'm on vacation next week I'll be able to log what I eat.  Next week could be scary.

BUT - if I keep at this and maintain these targets, I should be down 5 lb by the end of September, which would make me very happy!

---------------------
Plank-a-day: 16/18

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #22

If there's one thing I've learned about myself while trying to lose weight, it's that I have trouble keeping the losing momentum going.  Last week, I was down 4 lb; this week, well....

192.2 lb

So it's four steps forward, one step back.  I really am good at this yo-yo-ing thing.  But on the bright side, it's two weeks now that I've kept 3 lb off, so that's good.

I also can't seem to quiet this voice in the back of my head saying, "Maybe 190-ish lb is where you should be."  I'm not going to throw in the towel yet though; I've still got 4 1/2 months left in the year to see where I can be.  And I've got about six weeks to hit my first goal of being 180 lb at the end of September.  So 3 lb over two weeks actually isn't the worst pace to be on.  If I keep that up, I'll hit my goal right on time!

--------------------
Plank-a-day: 15/17 (and still at 30 seconds)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So, how's your Tuesday?

Today is my long day at work.  I started writing this post at 3:00 pm; it's now 7:30 pm, I've been here since 10:30 and I could be here until 2:00 am.  While I love my job, my long day inevitably ends up with long stretches of me waiting for things to get done (as the crux of my job is making sure things get done and not so much doing them) so I figured I may as well do an update.

I've done a number on my legs.  I ran on Sunday (not quite 3km, but I did increase my speed, so that's probably why).  I usually take a day off between runs but my legs felt so good yesterday that I thought I'd go for another run.  BIG MISTAKE.  I made it through 1 km before I had to start walking because my legs were aching.  Then, being the smart person I am, I decided to start running again.  That lasted about 1/2 km before I was back to walking.  Eventually I had to get off the treadmill and finish my cardio on the non-impactful bike.  My legs still hurt a bit today but I've been stretching them every chance I get and I won't be doing any more running this week, because...

We leave for Halifax on Saturday!  Super excited!  We're driving out with another couple and we'll be gone for a week, with four full days in Halifax.  This makes it even more important for my legs to be in good shape because we'll be doing a lot of walking - including, of course, a brewery tour.  We'd also like to go kayaking in the Bay of Fundy, hit up Shakespeare by the Sea and maybe even drive out to Peggy's Cove.  Also, there must be some ocean time because the ocean is amazing and who doesn't love an amazing ocean?!

I'm still going to do my planks while in Halifax.  Our hotel has a fitness room too, so I'm hoping to squeeze in a workout or two (but no running!).  My body needs to do weightlifting regularly or else my back gets sore - such is life with an ample chest.  Plus I like how I feel after a good session with weights and since we plan on doing a lot of walking in Halifax, I'll be getting in my share of cardio.  I also did my plank today, so I'm 13/15 - and I'm up to a solid 30 seconds.  Woot!

I think it's time I see a nutritionist as well.  I get the stomach gurgles more than I'd like, and probably more than I should.  I feel like everything I eat makes me bloated and uncomfortable.  One of the things I love about work is that we have an on-site health centre, complete with nutritionist (and a massage therapist, who I also want to go see, as the therapist will file my benefits claim for me!).  

I've also decided that I want some personal training sessions in the new year.  My money is better spent on my debt until then, but by that time I figure I'll need a good shake-up to my workout routine.  There are trainers here at my work gym, so I'll go see one of them and (hopefully) enjoy the "hurts so good" hurt that will be put on me.

There's not much else going on right now.  I'm looking forward to fall and enjoying the cooler days and much cooler nights we've been having.  I've also been enjoying all the lovely fall fashion that's been coming out and I can't wait to be back in denim and cozy sweaters.  I've also decided this is the year I find a pair of knee-high boots.  I have large calves, which have thus far thwarted me from getting boots, but I'm determined to find ones that fit for fall.  As long as they're brown.  I love tall brown boots.

All right, back to work.  Gotta get this magazine out the door!




Friday, August 12, 2011

Goal Recap

Over a few posts, I've listed out the various goals I want to achieve between now and December 31, 2011.  Here's a quick recap:

Goal:Plank - do a plank a day for the month of August (and - why not? - the rest of the year)

Goal:Run - be able to run 5 km

Goal:Food - maintain a food journal

Goal:Weight - weigh 170 lb

Goal:Pants - fit into my Esprit jeans

Goal:Dress - fit into my pretty purple dress

Goal:Debt - to have only $5,000 remaining on my student loads



--------------------

Plank-a-day update: 10/12 (I missed yesterday out of laziness/forgetfulness - worst excuse ever)

Goal:Debt

I've been making great progress this year on my student loans but I really, really want the damned things paid off! 

Here's where I stand right now:

CIBC: $ 3,981.35
NSLSC #1: $ 5,843.66
NSLSC #2: $ 493.64

Total owing: $10,318.65

With only 4 1/2 months left this year, I want to get as much paid off as I can.

GOAL: Get my students loans down to $5,000 owing

STATUS: $5,318.65 to go

PLAN: Throw every bit of extra money I have at my debts

Ideally, I'll pay off even more and have less that $5,000 owing when 2012 arrives, but I want to set achievable goals that I can (hopefully/maybe) surpass so I feel even awesomer about myself!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What real women look like

I discovered the best website today.  It's called My Body Gallery and it's a site of photos of real women.  You can search for women built like you, by inputting the height, weight, clothing size, even body type that you want to view.  And - voila! - suddenly a gallery full of beautiful real women. 

I was amazed at the photos I saw of women my height and weight and how beautiful and happy they looked.  So I decided, "That's how I want to be."

And I will be.

Seriously, these women are smokin'!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #21

I got back on the scale today and I was a little worried; I've eaten terribly the last two days (and by terribly I mean terrible for me yet oh so delicious) and I was worried this would be reflected in my weight.

But I hopped on anyways and saw....191.2 lb.  That's a 4 lb loss!  Wowza!

I've been sticking with my workouts but I really think the food journal is helping me.  There have been a few times when I've made better choices because I didn't want to have to write my awful choices down.  Even though no one else reads my food journal, once it's down on paper it's there to stare back at me and I don't like that kind of guilt.  And after such a successful weigh-in, I want to keep it going!

--------
Plank-a-day: 9/10

Monday, August 8, 2011

Goal:Dress

My mom bought this very cute dress on the sale rack at a store in Parry Sound and since it didn't quite fit her, she offered it to me.  I really like it and - at a size 12 - was hopeful it would fit:

From the front, it doesn't look too bad; it's a little tight across the abdomen, but not unbearably so.  The problem is when I turn around:

I can't get the sucker zipped up.  It is possible that I'll never be able to fit it; my rib cage might be too big (and I'd rather not lose any bone mass).  But if I'm able to lose an inch or two off my chest I should be able to get the dress done up. 

GOAL: Fit into my super-cute purple-dotted Parry Sound dress

STATUS: Can't zip the damn thing up

PLAN: Keep doing what I'm doing

------------------

Plank-a-day update: 7/8

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Goal:Pants

Over a year ago, I ordered some clothes from Esprit.  I have lots of luck finding stuff that fits at Esprit and wanted to take advantage of the great deals that can be found on its website.  I ordered several things: a t-shirt; a tank top; a pencil skirt; a dress; and a pair of jeans.  Amazingly, everything fit...except the jeans.  Now, Esprit does offer free returns but you have to send the package from a DHL depot - which are not exactly in abundance (the nearest one to me is in Burlington and it would have cost more in gas to drive there and back than the jeans I bought).  So I've had the jeans kicking around, thinking I would offer them to various friends and whoever fit them would get them.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try them on, just for fun.  The first time I tried them on, I couldn't get them over my hips.  Suddenly ---- I COULD!  So these pants have now become Goal:Pants.

GOAL: Fit into my Esprit jeans

STATUS:


















The pictures isn't the best, but I think you can tell that the jeans don't exactly fit well.  They're much too tight around the mid-section and I'm not sure I can sit down in them. 

PLAN: Keep doing what I'm doing!

----------------------------

Plank-a-day update: 6/7