Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Weeks 2,3, and Random Update

Well weeks 2 and 3 flew by without an update from me. So far I'm up to -7.5 lbs officially (although when I cheated and checked yesterday I was more at 12 lbs-hooray!). They went pretty well, actually, and I feel like I've been staying "on plan." The real challenge will be once school starts and things get more stressful and hectic, although on the plus side my life will be more structured, which personally makes eating right sometimes an easier task. R has been going right along with me (although he's not officially doing Weight Watchers). We've been eating well-but I've noticed it's not much different from what we would eat before. It's less potatoes and more attention to portion sizes. But for the most part it's the same foods as before, with the exception of my oatmeal addition. I discovered Trader Joe's has a quick cooking steel cut oatmeal and it's fantastic! I was finally able to get my hands on some good peaches, and have been having those in my oatmeal this week. So good.

In random news, things are about the get started-as in TOMORROW! I have orientation all day tomorrow and most of the day on Friday. I'm excited about meeting the other members of my "cohort" (as they for whatever reason call an incoming class of PhD students). Ours is apparently pretty small-only eight, I think, and I'm the only early modern Britain person among the group. I don't know if there's anyone doing renaissance on the Continent, though. It would be cool if there were, but since UConn is such a powerhouse for American history, they may be all from that side of things! But there may be a medievalist in there as well, which would be cool. I'm going to bust out with my brand new Nutcase helmet (it's so much fun!) and folding bike (a Dahon) tomorrow, as I'm sure I'll have to park a million miles away. And why wait for the shuttle when I can ride my bike over to the building?

It's been cold and rainy for the past few days. We need the rain badly, but I could live without the temps in the low 60s. Luckily tomorrow it's supposed to be 81, and then up in the upper 80s over the weekend, so that will be great. We're hoping to make another trip to Six Flags for the water park before it closes for the season. The downside of the warm weather is that I will get sweaty biking to class, but whatever. I'd be sweaty walking too, so what are you going to do? Nothing I guess.

Other than that...I bought new glasses today. I bought a $99 pair from Sears last year and after about a month came to hate them. I mean, I loathe these glasses. It's not that they look bad (because they don't), there's just something about anyway, this time I decided that I was going to spend money on my glasses, as they'll probably be getting more use than usual (I want to be really conscientious about taking them out when I get home at night before I study). I remember the last pair of glasses I spent more money on, and I loved them. I like these ones too...they're Ray-Bans (only got that brand because at LensCrafters there's some sort of thin laser lens you can get if you've got stupid bad vision like myself that only costs 10 bucks more than a regular lens but you have to buy Ray-ban frames). I like the look, and I can't wait until they come in! Maybe I'll post a picture then. It was admittedly weird going to the eye doctor today, as I've gone to the same guy since I was in 3rd grade, and needless to say he's out of my insurance network now. So I had to find a new optometrist : ( But she was nice, so it's all good. The big surprise was she said I didn't need the astigmatism correction in my contacts-that it wasn't severe enough to warrant it. I was a bit taken aback by this because I've had at least one toric lens since I started wearing she gave me a pair without them and told me to try them out for a week or two and see how I liked them. So far so good...I hope they work, because they're much cheaper!

And my garden is still going strong. The tomato crop has been fantastic this year. I think next year I'm only going to plant tomatoes-big ones in one bed, cherries in another. Then we can make sauces and salsas with our maters! This year we've been able to have BLTs and caprese salad, which has been awesome. I love me some home grown maters. Now if I could only find some fried green tomatoes up here, I'd be all set. I've been craving them for some reason.

Oh well. Anyway here's to the beginning of exciting things!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fab Five Friday

So I've seen on a few blogs people doing these things called "fab five Fridays" or whatever cutesy name you'd like to insert. Technically it's Thursday, but I will just wait to post this until tomorrow. Tricksy, eh? Yes... But R is still sick and Futurama isn't on until 10 and I have nothing else I feel like doing, so here are my five fabulous things for this Friday, not because I'm doing them but because I felt like writing about them.

1. My garden. Except for the squash.

(The above are obviously not squash, but rather tomatoes). I love my garden-this year we did raised beds, and they've done pretty well! I have 5 cobs of corn coming along (the most exciting part, in my opinion...unfortunately I'm not exactly sure when to pick them so that could raise problems), tons of maters-both small and large, cucumbers, strawberries, and watermelon (I have 3 baby melons!). So far the tomatoes have gotten the most use-the cukes have been smaller than usual, and the corn's not ready yet. Nor are the baby melons. I planted some bell peppers later in the summer and they just now seem to be blossoming, so we'll see what happens there. But the tomatoes-oh man. That's the main reason to have a summer garden in the first place! We've had caprese salad twice, blt's once, stuffed peppers (using homegrown tomato puree) once, and tonight we had a tomato on our burgers. So. Friggin. Good.

Except for the squash. For whatever reason squash hates growing for me. I can't grow it in Massachusetts. I couldn't grow it in Kentucky. I don't know why.

2. Vermont. This is a picture taken near Smuggler's Notch State Park in Vermont.

R and I went here on our staycation/New England sampler vacation. Let me say, it was awesome! The park itself was really small-only 20 campsites I think, and hiking and camping is all that particular park has. BUT...they were really low key, had firewood for 4 bucks and a fire starter (which meant we didn't have to dig around for kindling), and we had a nice site near the bathroom, which kept me from having to sneak a pee behind a tree in the middle of the night when I don't want to walk to the bathroom by myself because it's cold and I don't feel like being attacked by bears thank you very much.

Anyway the park was awesome. Ben and Jerry's was cool. Stowe was cute, though I would never ever want to go near there in the winter. I imagine it's a mad house. Smuggler's Notch itself was awesome. We hiked up a mountain to a mountain top lake, looked at said lake, and then hiked down. On the way down a group wouldn't move and I proceeded to fall and scrape the crap out of my knee, but that was the worst of it. Got some good pictures of the lake, though.

Oh and they let you have beer in Vermont State Parks. I just have to remind myself of what that place must be like in the winter to keep me from wanting to move there. I don't mind winter, when it's 2.5 months like it is in Kentucky. When it's November-Aprilish like it is in New England I tend to be a little...disenchanted. So I just kept imagining that I was hiking up that mountain in 3 feet of snow a la Lord of the Rings. That helped temper my Vermont enthusiasm a bit.

3. Beer. This will be a constant. I just thought it was a convenient time to update you all on a few things of note in my beer world:

-The Hefeweizen should be ready to drink early next week, though it will improve in taste even more in a few more weeks.

-There's a Pale Ale in the carboy just waiting to be bottled next week. That means we'll have about 100 bottles of homebrew at once. Woohoo!

-R saw a post on Facebook that I was craving a hoppy Pale Ale, and stopped to get me some despite his growing illness. I love him.

-Summer ales are disappearing for the year. WTF? It's AUGUST folks, and the middle of August at that. I realize Oktoberfest is technically in September, but do we really have to pull out the Oktoberfest beers in the middle of August? I'm still in summer mode. I only gripe about this because my local brewery is done with growler fills of their summer for this year, and has Oktoberfest. I like Oktoberfest as much as the next person, and I LOVE fall beers (Shipyard's Pumkinhead being my absolute favorite of the fall selection), but I'm not ready for that. I'm still in my cloudy-wheat-ale phase of summer. Why do I have to settle for bottles for the next month? Sigh.

4. This blog: You need to read it. Now.

5. Jesus. I guess he should be number one, really, seeing as he's Jesus and all. We're buds, as you can tell from this picture. Anyway, Jesus really is awesome. Not joking about that one. Seriously.

So there you have it. What's not awesome? One of my best friends is moving away to Chicago. And R is sick. Boo.

But dogs are cute, right? So we'll end on a happy note. The dog on the left is Poppie, my mom's (she's...5 now?) and the dog on the left is my nephew's, SkippyJon (named after the oh so awesome SkippyJon Jones books). My mom took this the other morning and sent it to me with the caption: BFF.

There. Don't say I never gave you anything.

In Which R is Sick...Or How I Learned My Cats Aren't Cuddly

I don't have too much of a history with cats. We had one when I was a kid. I remember my brother, sister, and I finding a stray as it wandered into our backyard. We wanted to keep it badly, so we wrote some ridiculous song and sang it to my parents, convincing them about how much fun having a cat would be! what we could name it! how creative we were to boot! I don't know how Mom and Dad sat there and listened without falling onto the floor and rolling about in cramp-inducing laughter. I think that's what parenting must be about, really-not laughing at your kids for being ridiculous. Needless to say, they took pity on our attempts at melodic greatness, and let us keep the cat. We named it Doodles. Doodles...well, I don't remember much about her. She eventually lived in the basement (which was part of the house and didn't have to be entered from the outside, lest someone think us cruel), until she decided to pee on everything in sight. So she "Went to a farm," which I found out only 2 years ago meant she had to be put down. Why my parents felt they had to resort to a "code" about this I have no idea. They evade the question when I ask it.

Then we got dogs. Or rather, my brother and sister got a dog (and eventually my mom, and my nephew). I, unfortunately, never got a dog, though I hold out hopes of one day fulfilling this dream. Our oldest dog was Peachie (rest her soul, she had to be put down last September). She was a canine trash compacter-her favorite food was turnip peels, and she also ate chocolate chip cookies and a whole tube of neosporin. The only thing that almost killed her-as a puppy, no less-was some sample dog food. Go figure.

Peachie had an amazing knack for taking up room on the bed. When my brother, N, would have to be out of town or at a friend's house or whatever, she'd sleep with me because my room was right next to his and her whining kept me up all night. She'd proceed to get in my bed, position herself between my body and the wall, and stick her legs straight out, thereby reducing the space on my twin bed for me to about 6 inches. And she smelled. But she was a nice dog.

What I'm trying to get at is that Peachie was cuddly, as much as a beagle-mutt who smells bad and eventually had bad joints could be. Doodles I never got the chance to find out. And our other dogs (until the recent SkippyJon addition-a chihuahua who I'm convinced is secretly a parrot who sits on our shoulders because we're all pirates though we don't know it yet) are too big to snuggle. Lesson-dogs kind of cuddly. Cats, until this point, I had no clue, though I did house-sit one summer and that cat spent every night attacking my feet, until I figured out a way to fling the sheets and send said cat flying. It was pretty righteous.

Which brings me to Gizmo and Leela. Giz used to be incredibly cuddly, but he's not so much anymore. He does enjoy being picked up and held on his back, getting his belly rubbed, but he's not the biggest fan of sitting in my lap (though R is his BFF so he'll sit there every now and then). Leela, on the other hand, is a maniac for sitting on my lap or laying on my stomach and kneading my chest and generally getting in the way of whatever it is I'm trying to do, which is usually read a book for school. I'd call her decently cuddly, on her own terms.

Which brings me, in a rather round about way, to last night. R is sick with who knows what (fever and aching and fatigue). He was going to sleep in our spare room, but I was gallant and told him the sick person should get to sleep in our own bed. I actually do believe this, and when I'm sick he can sleep in the other room, although this is the first time in our life we've had to do this. Anyway I'm sleeping in the spare room and I think, "Hey, the cats aren't allowed in our room, but why not let them sleep in the spare room with me? the sheets will get washed, so no cat hair issues!" I thought "this will be fun! awesome! adorable!" not to mention they would provide some heat as well as white noise with their oh so peaceful purring. This is what I had in mind, or some variation on this (and I'm too lazy to rotate the pic, so deal):

These are my actual kittens on the day we brought them home. Gizmo takes up that entire bed now, by the way, when he chooses to sleep in it. Which is never. He prefers the weight bench.

The night started OK. The cats were intrigued by these things called "sheets" and "blankets." Luckily they didn't give a damn about the pillow, lest I have to go spritzing them. I read for a while, and turned off the light. They walked around a bit but then left the room and generally ignored me. Gizmo came in a few hours later and laid down on part of the bed, but there was no cute cuddling action going on. There was nothing going on, really.

Until 4:30 AM.

I should say that I have no idea where my cats sleep at night. Whenever I get up for my inevitable middle of the night pee, Gizmo might be sleeping on the bathroom floor, but usually neither cat is anywhere to be found. But it's always quiet. We get up on weekdays around 6:30ish, so that's when they eat. And they sometimes stir before that, but we've never been woken up by the cats before 5 something, I'd say.

Until this morning. At 4:30 AM.

My cats became this:

Only with the curtains. And really only Leela (who's a black cat). But I thought this picture captured the mood (the picture itself, if you click on it, will take you to the site where I got it. See? Not plagiarizing is awesome!)

Leela thought this would be the most awesomest time to attack the curtain above my head. Not the other curtains in the house. That particular one. And did she ever show that curtain who was boss (imagine said gun pointed at a curtain).

So then I had to show her who was boss, and I kicked them both out of my guest room (figuratively) and went back to sleep.

Lesson: Hilary's cats do not equal cuddly sleeping at night cats, but are rather curtain attack cats after 4 AM. Especially Leela. Gizmo just orders the hit.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Week 1

I realize this isn't a weightloss blog...I don't know what kind of blog this is, to be honest. However, I figure I would at least update my admiring public once a week on how things are going on each weigh-in day, which for me is a Monday (by the way, I've noticed lately that several people are showing up on this blog who I don't know. Welcome! ).

So. Week 1: 1.5 lbs. Not too bad really. I should feel more excited about it than I actually do. I cheated and got on the scale yesterday, and was down 2 lbs from last Monday, but I guess dinner last night had an effect. It wasn't a bad dinner either-I just probably ate a little more than I should have. The week got thrown off by a KISS concert on Saturday night. I have to be better about not letting those things get in my way. I also had a cookie at coffee hour yesterday, which isn't usual for me. For the most part I never have anything at coffee hour because there's nothing left by the time I'm free! Probably a good thing, I think.

For the most part, the week went well. I mentioned to R that I noticed we really didn't have to change our menu all that much-just portions. We have removed potatoes-not that potatoes are bad for us, they're actually low in points, but we've been filling out meals with 0-point veggies. For example, we're having stuffed peppers tonight and I'm making squash as a side to fill things out a bit. It's made a big difference-if you eat lots and lots of 0-point veggies, having 3-6 oz. of chicken doesn't seem so small. So much of this is psychology, but there you go.

As I wrote last week, having the fresh cut veggies on hand has also been a huge help. And the oatmeal. I think I tripped up last night because I went on a 45 minute run and then we didn't have dinner for almost 3 hours. Raw veggies don't help when you've bonked after a run. Oh well. I ate a little more than I should have but no biggie.

So 1.5 lbs. Not bad. My goal weight for the short-term (as in, the next few months) is 21 lbs from where I am now-definitely do-able as long as I stay on track! I have noticed a big difference though, even with these few lbs. I'm closer to where I was at the beginning of the summer. It just goes to show how much of a difference a few lbs of weight-loss can make in the way you feel!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Here We Go Again

Well, I jumped back on Weight Watchers. Not that I every really dropped out because I wanted to-it was really a financial thing more than anything else (when you only have a part time job, 18.00 a month can be a mega hit). I did OK-my running speed has definitely improved and for the most part I've maintained my weight. Until vacation, when I started to gain a little back. I think I've gained about 10-15 from my low point that I was in last fall, and I could feel it. I was feeling bad about it too-I'd worked really hard to lose the 36-37 lbs that I had lost between February and October 2009, and I didn't want all of that to fall by the wayside. So, I joined back up. Luckily the mechanics of it are already familiar to me, so I don't have to go through all of that. Now is just the 1-2 week "detox" period, where my body's metabolism gets back on track and I'm hungry all of the time. I have done a few things differently this time, though, and they're working (so far). I thought I'd share, for those who are interested:

1. Have a huge supply of pre-cut raw vegetables for snacking. We've got carrots, peppers, and cucumbers in the fridge and I've noticed that it's made a big difference. I can pack a bag for lunch, and when I get home I can munch on some if I feel the need. R has taken to having a pre-dinner veggie snack, which is good for him because it keeps him from eating more at dinner (he's not officially doing WW, but since I am, he's going along in a way). It's so much easier for me to make good decisions when they're ready and sitting in the fridge, staring me in the face. There's no excuse, basically, for me to have something else when there are fresh-cut vegetables available...

2. ...unless I'm really hungry. I love veggies, but raw vegetables don't always do the trick for me in terms of hunger. They might, but if I'm getting ready for a run they don't do much. Then I have to turn to a snack that actually has a points value (for those who don't know, in WW you track points-derived from a combo of calories, fat, and fiber). This could be a sandwich thin with some peanut butter, or some cottage cheese, or just something with a little protein. Or grapes, which I've found so really well for me before a workout, for whatever reason.

3. Oatmeal is my friend. This is HUGE for me. If there is one healthy food I have never been able to eat in the past, it's cooked oatmeal. Don't get me wrong-I love oatmeal cookies, granola, and things with oatmeal in it. But cooked breakfast oatmeal? Gag me with a spoon. I've tried to like it, I really have, but to no avail. Until I discovered steel cut oats. These have made all the difference in the world-I think I'm addicted to the stuff! And it fills me up better than my usual cheerios (which I love), so I'm not hungry at 10 am. It's also worked as an afternoon snack for a pre-workout, although then I make it with water instead of milk. I have a couple of ways I make it, and I love both. So tasty.

4. Smaller cutlery makes a difference. In the morning, I don't use the giant spoons we have (I would like to point out that R already had these when we got married, so I played no role in the purchasing of our cutlery :) ), but smaller spoons. It makes me eat slower, and it feels like I'm eating more as I'm taking more bites. I know that sounds weird, but I'll take whatever psychological edge I can get. At dinner, I use a small fork for the same reason. When cooking oven fries, I use the smaller pizza pan as it makes one serving look like more than when it's dwarfed on a huge pan. For folks who don't have weight issues, this may sound ridiculous. But I promise, it makes a huge difference when regulating portion size!

5. Black coffee tastes good. Enough said, really, although I do like a little half and half in the morning, but as I lose weight and my daily points allotment drops, that may have to go. We'll see.

So there you go. Just a few things that have worked for me. I recently discovered a couple of cool blogs as well that provide some interesting views on weight loss.
All the Weigh (a young woman in NYC chronicles her weight loss-which is over 100 lbs!)
Man Meets Scale (the CEO of WW, who is also a member, has a really down to earth and personable blog)

Hope you're having a good summer. The south is baking. It's humid up here. We went on a staycation, but more on that later. For now, I've got to get back to reading about medieval women brewers.