Thursday, June 30, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #20 - and a hiatus

Because of my crappy mood yesterday, I delayed the weigh-in until this morning.  The result: 193.2 lb.  It's a loss this week, but not much; I'm down 0.4 lb.  But a loss is a loss and I'll take it.

I've also decided (just this morning, actually) that I'm taking July off from the scale.  I've become so caught up in the number that I'm beginning to dread it and I'm basing way too much of my self-worth on that digital output.  I'm not taking a break from being healthy though; I'm going to continue to work out and do my best to eat right and just relax for a month and see where that gets me. 

I've also been thinking about Weight Watchers again.  I contemplated it before but I wimped out - I'm so afraid of failure in a group setting that I just couldn't do it.  But I think it might be time to reevaluate how I feel about it and give it a shot.  With my work schedule, though, it might be tough for me to get to meetings so I might try the online program first.  I'm not going to do much before the fall, but come September, I want to have a plan in place.

And that's just it - I need a plan and I need to give myself time.  Sure, I'm not where I thought I'd be weight-wise but I'm making better changes in my lifestyle and that's a good thing.  I'm working out more, I'm eating better, I'm getting my finances in good standing and, even if I'm not getting the medical answers I want, at least I'm getting answers.  All in all, the first six months of 2011 have been pretty good to me. 

Since it's the long weekend, the Beau and I are looking to get to the cottage for a few days, which will be just what I need.  I was also recently in Parry Sound for a few days, which was a lovely break (even though I spent it redoing a bedroom at my mom's house - hard work!).  A break is definitely going to be good for me - I need to stop evaluating myself on some number and start looking at all the wonderful things I have in my life and find my happiness there.

I still want to get my weight down to 170 lb and I'd like to be at 180 lb by the end of the summer.  But for now, I'm going to enjoy the summer with those I care about (my kitty is on my lap as I type this, which makes for an interesting set-up) and just relax

The Beau loves me the way I am so maybe I should spend some time doing the same.  Who knows where that attitude will take me?!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It's a stupid word, normal.

What is normal?  Well, my blood sugar levels, for one.  And my hormones, for another.  And my thyroid and all the other things the vampiric medical establishment checked me for during my last round of blood work.

What's not normal?  Me. 

I had a follow-up appointment with yet another specialist today and he says I'm normal.  Thing is, I'm not.  My ovaries don't work and I have an endocrine condition, which is not normal.  But the endocrine specialist doctor can't do anything for me because all the scientific, medical stuff says I'm normal.

Now, not only am I still not normal, I'm incredibly frustrated.

Why is it that we can diagnose me but not treat the condition?  I'm fed up with only treating the symptoms.  It's like having a car with an engine that isn't working properly and deciding that putting more air in the tires will help. 

I was really counting on this appointment, too, to maybe finally shed some light on how I can start fixing myself.  Maybe my expectations were too high; needless to say, I've been despondent and bummed out since finishing up.  I couldn't come straight home after the appointment so I ended up going for an ambling walk and buying some yarn (Christmas is less than six months away, don'tcha know) and that helped for a bit - but then I had to walk home and walking always allows me time to think.  And I started thinking about how disappointing my appointment was...and I was back to my good ol' despondent self.

I was referred to this specialist to see if there was something that could be done at the hormonal/endocrine level to help me with my weight issues.  All the doctor said was to eat well and exercise.  Okay, fine, I'll keep doing that but it's not helping.  I last saw him in April and, since then, as per the scales at his office, I've lost about 2 lb in two months.  I told him that was awful.  He said it was good.  All I can say is that losing 1 lb a month will not keep me motivated.

Which, of course, is making me wonder if I should even try at all.  What good is it doing me, eating well and working out?  If it's not going to help, then why bother?  Apparently I'm normal, so I shouldn't have to change anything, right? 

I know I'm feeling sorry for myself right now and I'll snap out of it (I hope) but all I feel like doing is throwing a pity party, so I'm going to wallow in it for a little while longer.  It would just be so nice if some doctor - any doctor - could give me some kind of positive answer about my condition, instead of just saying I'm normal and to go on a diet. 

I'm afraid it's just not that simple with me, as diagnosed by medical science.  It's so nice of them to give me a problem with absolutely no solution.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Hunger Games

Reading is one of my greatest pleasures in life.  It always makes me happy, even when the book is heart-breakingly sad.  No matter my mood, I know I can find a book that will suit it and will take me into another world. 

Every so often, I stumble upon a book that is so incredibly good, I don't want to keep reading it because I don't want it to end - but I have to keep reading it because I need to know what happens.  Has that ever happened to you?  One such book for me was The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which I still think about.  Another was Her Fearful Symmetry, the second novel by Audrey Niffinegger (of The Time Traveler's Wife brilliance).

I've now found another such book, one that I can barely put down and one that will surely make me miss my subway stop at some point: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

(I'm very excited that these three books are all authored by women.)

One thing to note about The Hunger Games is that it's a young adult novel, with teenaged characters and adults existing mostly on the periphery.  So what makes it work at an "old" adult level?  This book isn't about emo teens, sitting in a dark corner listening to Linkin Park.  Rather, it touches on issues that are important to teenagers - family, friends, success, love, acceptance - but are also issues for adults.  These things don't end once we exit our teen years; what 20-/30-/40-something doesn't worry and wonder about their family, maintaining friendships, finding success in life, falling in love and finding that place in life where they are accepted not just by those around them but into what is around them?  We may not be angsty as adults (or maybe we still are, we just hide it better) but the book dwells on issues that translate across both a younger and older audience.  By doing this, the book stops being for young adults and starts being for everyone.

I'm twice as old as Katniss, the main protagonist, but I can still relate to her.  She also makes me feel incredibly wimpy and weak, but you'll have to read the book to understand why.  For me, that is great storytelling.  The book also almost made me cry on the subway this morning and not many books make me cry. 

There is one giveaway that it was written for a younger audience and that is the book is clearly plot-driven; it's always moving ahead and, though we learn about the characters and back stories are woven in to the narrative quite well, it's always getting us from point A to B to C, and on and on.  (Although that is something else I enjoy in books; I'm not a fan of books where people have feelings at each other for 400 pages.)

One note of caution: The Hunger Games is book one of a trilogy.  If you plan to read it, don't read the jacket copy of either the second or third book, lest you have the story spoiled.  I made that mistake. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #19 and dinner tonight

Golden delicious polenta
We didn't publish an issue of the magazine last night, so I went to work today.  Because of that, the Beau took on dinner-making duties tonight and made an amazing dinner of polenta topped with a spicy chicken and mushroom tomato sauce - so good!  Polenta is one of our favourite carb substitutes; we buy it by the tube, slice it into thick disks and roast it in the oven so it's crisp on the outside but soft on the inside.  Polenta is made of cornmeal so it's not white-flour heavy like pasta or bread, but it's still delicious and really filling.  We've also started buying dried mushrooms because we both love mushrooms but can never cook the fresh ones quickly enough.  The dried mushrooms work really well in a sauce and added a nice touch to tonight's dinner.

But on to the weigh-in.  I didn't make it to the gym today, not because I didn't want to go but because it was so busy at work today that I didn't even get a break.  I probably could have stayed a bit later than I did, but not getting a lunch break meant after-work errands and I wanted to get home in good time.  Though I think a break from the gym was good for me; my muscles are a bit sore from weights yesterday and my shins were a bit achy (I've been stretching a lot because I really want to keep my running up!).

Tonight, the scale looked up at me and said 193.6 lb.  That's 0.8 lb down from last week (yay!) but still not the 190.2 lb that will get me a book (boo).  It's also not where I wanted to be but at least the number is going the right way. 

I know I can do this and I have to really work at not getting frustrated.  I also have to really work at making better choices and - this is most important - watching my portion sizes.  I've mentioned this before and I'm still not doing what I need to do.  But I am getting more vegetables and I've actually discovered I enjoy some fruit! 

So I'll keep trying. 

(Hm...can I blame the not-much weight loss on weight gain due to muscle gain?  Somehow I think that's wishful thinking!)

Loan baloney

I've become pretty obsessive about paying down my student loans and I get so impatient waiting for pay day!  Thankfully, I get paid this Friday so I'll be able to make another big payment. 

I've just checked my balances and here's where I stand:
CIBC: $4,062.54
NSLSC #1: $6,145.52
NSLSC #2: $2,047.75

That's a total of $12,255.81, which is actually $10.81 more than I owed last week.  Damn you interest! 

Back when I didn't have much money and could only (barely) make my minimum payments, I knew I was paying interest but I didn't pay much attention to it, mainly because I couldn't afford to do anything about it.  But now that I'm making bigger payments and really making a dent in my loans, the extra interest I'm paying is really sucking.  There's not much I can do about all the extra interest I've paid thus far, but it really is helping motivate me to get it paid down more. 

I'm off next week and going to my mom's to spend some time with her, so I'm going to have to pay extra attention to my budget and make sure I don't overdo it; I really don't want to have to forgo putting extra money on my loan because I spend too much when I'm with my mom.  We'll be redecorating a bedroom in her house and she's letting me make all the decorating choices...but I said I'd foot the bill since she's letting me pick everything.  So I'll just have to make the right choices.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One student loan GONE

I paid one off!  Woo hoo!  I still owe, you know, a bit but I've paid one of them off!

I still have these three left:
CIBC: $4,058.88
NSLSC #1: $6,140.22
NSLSC #2: $2,045.90

Total owing: $12,245.00

It feels SO GOOD to see this number going down!  And within a couple of months I should have it below $10,000.  Just like my weight, I'm going to keep chipping away at this too!Hide all

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #18

I did weigh in this week, only I did it tonight instead of yesterday.  Not that waiting the extra day really made much difference; it's still a gain.  I'm now at 194.2 lb, so I'm up 2.8 lb.  But I'm not discouraged; instead I'm blaming it on menstrual weight.  Yeah, that's right, Aunt Flo paid a surprise visit and I've spent the week bloated and crampy and uncomfortable.

That's the thing when you don't menstruate every month - you forget what it's like and get used to not being bloated and crampy and uncomfortable.  I've been guzzling the water all week but I've also been giving in to all the cravings that accompany my sporadic cycles.  But I'm going to get back on track and be back on the scale next week and hope I have enough of a loss to get a new book (because I really need a new book).

That target again: 190.2 lb.  I can do it!


I went today, finally!  I don't know why, but I was super nervous to use the work gym for the first time, but all was fine.  I went at 3:30 and it was pretty empty, which was nice.  As far as gyms go, it's a gym; it's the showering after that I always find awkward.  I never really know what the proper etiquette is: do I strip down and wrap in a towel to walk to the gym?  Do I wear my sweaty clothes and undress in the shower stall?  Will people walk buck naked to and from the shower?  It's all so puzzling.

I opted for the first option and stripped down, wrapped myself in a towel and, flip flops on feet, went and showered.  It wasn't so bad today because I just did weights, so I wasn't too sweaty.  Tomorrow when I run could be a bit more awkward and messy, especially since my towel barely covers my bum. 

Oh well.  We're all women, right?  We all have the same bits and if you don't want to look, don't look. 

I'm sure I'll be old hat at this whole thing in no time!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yummy Wednesday dinner

It's not quite as pretty as the picture from the recipe but still...
I made jambalaya for dinner tonight and it smells AMAZING.  I had to look up the recipe and, oddly enough, jambalaya recipes are very complicated.  Here I thought it was just sausage, shrimp, veggies, tomatoes and rice - but most recipes also call for chicken, which I added.  Although the most complicated part was the spices; I never would have been able to spice the dish from scratch.  And even without the Creole seasoning that the recipe called for, I think it turned out pretty awesome.

And to keep it healthy, I used turkey sausage instead of pork sausage.  Turkey sausage is quickly becoming my favourite meat.  I find I can't tell the difference between turkey and pork sausage, which is great because it tastes delicious but is still good for me.  In fact, I quickly discovered that jambalaya is a pretty healthy meal. 

Since it's Wednesday, I also wanted something delicious for dessert, so I picked up some vanilla ice cream (vanilla is the Beau's favourite sweets flavour) and some fresh peaches to serve on top. 

I'm really excited for dinner tonight!

Friends and friendship

I made it home from work earlier than normal today (meaning I'm home just after midnight, rather than around 2 am) so I'm still a little wired and unable to sleep.  This kind of sucks because it would be nice to get to bed at a decent hour so I can get up at a decent hour on my day off and actually have a full productive day.


I've been thinking about friendships a lot lately, mostly because I haven't seen my BFF in far too long and I've come to a realization - I'm kind of a bad friend.  Not bad in the "Don't-tell-anyone"-and-I-promptly-update-my-Facebook-status kind of way, but in the I-haven't-seen-you-in-forever-but-I'm-still-not-making-plans-with-you kind of way.  And it's not that I don't want to see my friends.  It's a character flaw of mine: I'm far too passive when it comes to things like that and I always have this nagging thought that says, "[Insert person here] doesn't really want to see you." 

There are the standard excuses, of course, but I will say that my new work schedule has been wreaking havoc on all areas of my life, not just my social calendar.  Case in point: I barely got home early enough last night to see the Beau before he went to bed.  Had I not seen him last night, I would have gone from Monday morning to Wednesday afternoon without seeing him awake.  This is not a complaint so much as it's a fact of my new reality.  And it's taking some adjusting.  (Though my kitty loves it; she now gets all kinds of cuddles at random hours when before she would have either been alone or been stuck with two unwakeable humans.)

So what am I going to do about my shitty friend-being?  I'm going to work at being better, that's for sure.  But I also don't want to be that person who makes all kinds of plans and then cancels because something comes up or I get lazy.  And, let's face it, laziness is also an integral part of my character. 

But too lazy to maintain the things that are important to me?  That's just sad.  And I know that.  So as part of my quest for better happy health, I am going to make a better effort at being a friend. 

Monday, June 13, 2011


I've come to the realization that I don't eat enough vegetables.  This is strange, though, because I LOVE veggies.  Seriously, they are the best thing ever.  I could give up meat before I could give up veggies.  Heck, I would even give up chocolate before giving up veggies.

So I find it strange that I don't seem to eat enough.  Generally I get some for dinner - and some nights I get plenty (like when we make roasted cauliflower and I eat half a head of cauliflower in one sitting).  I've been finding at work that I don't get to the cafeteria before it closes, so I'm missing out on the salad bar most days.  My standard go-to for lunch are chicken wraps from Tim Horton's because they're yummy, they fill me up and they're pretty low in calories (420 for two).  But they only have lettuce and tomato on them and, while that may barely count as a serving, it's far from enough.

I keep snacks at my desk, but I prefer the pre-fab snacks, like almonds and All-Bran bars, because they're easier to keep.  We have plenty of fridge space at work, so it's not like I can't bring my own veggies...I just don't.

And that's what has to change.  I wish I could say that from this moment forth, I'm going to eat 5-6 servings of veggies everyday, no questions asked...but that is not going to happen.  I am going to make more of an effort though.  I'm going to try to get to the salad bar sooner, even if it's just for a side salad and then get one chicken wrap.  I'm going to try eating baby carrots again (I used to eat them all the time, then noticed I was, erm, awfully bloated and gassy...while at work...and it became uncomfortable for a few reasons).  I'm also going to make sure I get at least two servings worth at dinner.  I love steamed veggies and we always have bags of frozen vegetables at home, so I really don't have much of an excuse.

So here's to eating more veggies!

(Maybe tomorrow I'll tell you about me and fruit.)

The siren song of the diet book

Despite owning (and loving!) my Kobo, I still make time to wander around bookstores and browse through the printed merchandise.  Lately, I've found myself veering towards the health/fitness/weight loss section of the store and checking out the diet books.

I've bought a few in the past and always failed miserably at sticking to any of the plans, partly because of laziness but also because of the impracticality of so many of these books.  But that doesn't make it any less tempting to keep looking for "The One" that will be the answer to all my weight problems.

Though as I look at more and more of them, read reviews, see what people are saying, I'm discovering that the ones that actually have useful, healthy information (i.e. not fads or force you to cut out food groups or only eat 600 calories a day) all seem to espouse the same thing: portion control.

Portion control is where I massively fail and this can be chalked up mostly to my own laziness in not measuring/weighing my food better.  But I'm also finding it difficult to even find a good resource that tells me how big a serving should be.  For some people, saying a serving of chicken should be the size of a deck of cards will work.  For me, not so much.  It's not that I don't know how big a deck of cards is; it's that my brain doesn't work so well with the size visualization.  What I need to find is a resource that gives me weights or volumes of serving sizes.  Really, just give me ounces and cups and I'll be good to go.  I have no problem scooping out my cereal with a measuring cup and topping it with a properly measured serving of skim milk; but saying a "medium-sized" anything is a serving size trips me up every time.  Medium-sized compared to what?  (Big- and small-sized, right?!)  When I don't have a point of reference, I'm useless at figuring out that kind of thing.

So when I find the diet book that just lists the proper portion sizes in an easy-to-measure way, that will be my golden ticket.  And it may already exist and I just need to find it...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Again with pants sizes

Remember when I was all excited about the size 12 pants I picked up at H&M?  I've worn them a couple of times now and they're a great pair of summer pants - light and cotton and super comfy.  The catch?

Please excuse my pale, hasn't-seen-the-sun-in-10-years abdomen.
They don't fit anymore!  They're too big!  And it's not like I've lost gobs of weight or anything, but I guess I've lost enough since I bought them that they don't fit. 

Of course I'm excited about this - I rather like shrinking out of clothes.  But I can't help but feel frustrated that these particular size 12 pants are too big, while many other size 14 pants I own and other I try on in stores are still fitting (or are even a bit tight), while most other size 12 pants (including H&M pants) don't even come close to making it over my hips.

Honestly, I'm jealous of men and their pants sizing: waist sizes.  Why can't women's pants be like that?  Most jeans are and that seems to work out just fine.  So why is it that any non-denim pants have to be sized starting at 0 and going up by two? 

I just don't get it. 

(Although now I'm tempted to try to find these pants again and try on a size 10, if only for the ego boost!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A student loan update

Remember this post?  Well, I've made a little progress on the loan front. 

I got a nice, fat pay cheque a couple of weeks ago that included all the overtime I've accumulated since starting the new gig.  That allowed me to put $1,500 on the first (and lowest) of my loans.  The result?

BEFORE: $1,912.78
AFTER:    $   370.74

Oh yeah.

By my calculations, that brings my overall remaining debt to $13,429.19.  Much like my weight, slowly but surely this is going DOWN!

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #17

Good news on the scale today: 191.6 lb.  That's a loss of only 0.6 lb, but it's a loss. Woot! 

I'm still 1.4 lb away from a new book and 1.7 pounds away from breaking the 190 lb barrier, but I'm getting there!

In other news, I finally joined the gym at work.  My goal is to work out each day I'm at work, so that's four days.  Mondays and Fridays I want to do running intervals and Tuesdays and Thursdays I want to do weights.  Then on Wednesdays, when I'm home, I want to do an endurance run. 

I did an endurance run today, in fact.  I did 5 km in total, alternating between walking and running.  That amounts to 3k walking and 2k running and I got through it with minimal pain.  With any luck I can start adding more to my running segments, and eventually get up to 3k running...then 4k...then that elusive 5k I want so badly to hit. 

But I feel really good today.  And after an awesome dinner, I feel all-around...AMAZING, if truth be told.  Today has just been really good.

Another awesome Wednesday dinner

Today has been a great day.  I weighed myself and had a great workout (but I'll post on that later) and I made a wonderful dinner (if I may say so myself).

So what did I make?  I made fish tacos topped with mango salsa, served with garden salad on the side and cupcakes for dessert.  Although I confess - I bought the cupcakes.  We're trying to be healthy and having a couple dozen cupcakes around the house would be all kinds of bad news.

I also discovered how much I love my little juicer; it's not electric or big or anything, it's just one of those little ones that you squish the fruit on.  But I used it to get fresh lime juice for the fish marinade and for fresh lime juice and orange juice for the mango salsa and it was awesome.  I've been on this kick lately to make from scratch as much as I can and the whole juice thing works for me.

And now I am really REALLY full and we have leftovers for dinner tomorrow night, so all in all, a big dinner WIN.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Up-Down Challenge Weigh-in #16

As promised I weighed myself today and...

192.2 lb - that's a loss of 1.8 lb!

Sure I've been gaining and losing the same couple of pounds for about a month now, but this still feels good.

And I've come to the realization that saving money for every pound lost is not really working, mostly because I want to pay down my student loans and I'm putting all my extra money there.  But the other thing is that I feel I need a more immediate reward for losing.'s my new thing:

For every two pounds lost, I get a new book. 

This is a big deal, as I'm a huge reader and I've got a massive list in my Kobo library of books to buy.  The unfortunate thing is that, this week, no book; I've only lost 1.8 lb.  But to keep this working for me, I'm going to let my losses be accumulative. 

So if I start this amendment of my challenge at 192.2 lb, then once I reach 190.2 lb, I get a book.  If it takes me eight weeks to do so, well then it takes me eight weeks.  If I gain?  Then I have to get back to 192.2 (or less) before I can start counting any loss towards the 2lb requirement. 

I'm thinking this will work for me because, man, I love me a book!  In the meantime, I'm going to sleep well tonight knowing I'm that much lighter. 


Dinner tonight

It's Wednesday so it's special dinner night for the Beau and I.  We have some whole wheat tortillas that need eating, so tonight we're having chicken quesadillas and Mexican rice, with salsa and homemade guacamole on the side.  Yum!

Oh, and I picked up Oreo ice cream sandwiches for dessert.  Not the healthiest thing, but it's special dinner night, you know?

I'm going to weigh in shortly - I'll do it before dinner, methinks.