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Lean In…..

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I’m sure the media hype, hatred and vitriol toward Sheryl Sandberg and her book Lean In has not escaped the radar of many of you (as we are all media savvy peeps). Even before Sandberg’s book came out it was getting trashed and panned and I was, needless to say, intrigued. (Don’t even get me started on all the people angry at Melissa Meyer the new CEO at Yahoo! who is requiring people to work in the office. Heaven forbid!)  The night Lean In was released I picked up a copy from work and started reading when I got home. I was curious to see what her book was truly all about, and see what her thoughts on women, work and families were. Within minutes of reading the book, I was hooked. And I really mean, HOOKED! I grabbed it on my way out of work at 11pm at night and read for 2 hours when I got home. It was that compelling. I finished the book a few days later and have not been able to shut up about how good it was or stop recommending it to people. Upon starting the book, I texted my friend Amy who I work with and said “get this book. NOW.” I have talked about it nonstop to the point where a woman several locker bays down from me at the health club came over and asked if I was talking about Lean In. I told her I was and we started to discuss the book and I said I could not recommend it highly enough to EVERYONE.  And to this day, despite all the backlash she has gotten across many platforms, I stand by my statement. You need to read this book. It is one of the best treatises I have read on women, work and families in a long time.

Lean In starts out by detailing Sandberg’s early life as a young woman with parents who valued education and her college and post-grad experience. She discusses openly her failed first marriage, her fears at remarrying, and her current family life with her husband and two children.  But the real meat of the book is about what she has to say she has learned by being a full-time woman working at a high executive level in various industries from the Treasury Department to Google to Facebook.  Sandberg is HONEST in this book.  REFRESHINGLY HONEST. She talks openly about how scared she was that she did not belong at Harvard. That she was going to fail tests, fail out, and never make it. That these feelings continued well past her post-grad experience and carried her into her work life. Honestly, I think these are feelings we have all had at some point or another, especially those of us who have had experience in higher education and post-graduate work. I completely and totally related to what she had to say.  One of my most vivid law school memories was sitting in my first semester, Civil Procedure I final, with the two women on either side of me crying as they read the exam questions and started their answers. I remember thinking in my second year that I absolutely bombed my Evidence final, only to learn after a month of worrying about it (and I’m talking sleepless nights here), that I got the highest score in the class and a Cali award. Not believing in myself or my abilities enough, I actually went to see my professor to tell him I think he got it wrong. He did not. He laughed at me and told me to have more faith in myself. At the time, I thought “easy for him to say” because I was terrified of not being able to hack it. Law school was hard as hell and the competition and attitudes of my fellow students didn’t exactly bolster my self-confidence at the time.

I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to say about this book, and whether or not to weigh in on it. Ultimately, I realized that yes, I did need to write about it because I found it such a compelling read. Because she writes in a way that everyone can connect with. And because what she has to say is so important.  Ultimately, upon reflecting on this book and what I took away from it over the past few weeks, I realized that the reason I found this book so compelling is that the advice she gives and the commentary she has started is truly applicable to every woman, working outside the home or not, regardless of profession. The general practicalities of what she says — lean in to your career, sit at the table, don’t be afraid to look for opportunities to grow and increase your skill set– apply to everyone whether you work as a cashier at 7-11  or are the President of your own company.  Find a problem you face and figure out how to fix it. Understand that we are ALL scared at some point, that we ALL don’t think we can do the job we are faced with, that we are ALL stressed out with how to balance our work life and our home life and that this stress has at some point kept all of us awake at night.

One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard of this book is that Sandberg is “un-relatable” to the vast majority of working women, as she is a high-earning executive and can afford childcare options and household help that others cannot. Totally true. And she doesnt’ sugarcoat it. She is in a position through her earning power and her husband’s earning power to provide options for her family that many people do not have. However, that does not negate the fact that she has the same struggles that everyone else does–how to be a part of her family’s life and meet the time demands of her career, how to get it all done, how to carve out a niche of time for herself. The fact that she can afford nannies and whatever childcare options she needs does not take away from the fact that if she is not home at night in time to put her kids to bed 5 days a week, she fears, the same way all parents do, that her kids won’t know who she is.

I also fail to see how Sandberg’s advice to women, to go full steam ahead into whatever field they are in, and not immediately assume that just because they are women that they cannot accomplish their goals, is somehow advice that is limited to women in executive fields alone. At one point in her book, Sandberg recounts a conversation with a colleague who wanted to join her team at Google, but in a role that was completely different from what she had done professionally up until that point. Sandberg was blown away by how this woman approached her, and instead of doing what all other candidates did in the interviews, she started off with a simple question of “what is your biggest problem you deal with in your position and how can I help to fix it?” By doing this, Sandberg’s colleague immediately placed herself in a position where she was helping move forward and be a problem solver. Asking that simple question “what is the biggest challenge you face and how do you feel I can best work to solve it?” is something that everyone can ask regardless of what they do. I just asked that exact question this week of a new management team that I will be working with professionally as we start a new fiscal year — things are going really smoothly where I’ll be, but there is always room to improve — what can I do to help that? It was a simple question, the answers to which helps provide me with guidance and goals for my own fiscal year and projects. And again, it is a question that anyone can ask regardless of whether they work outside the home or inside, and regardless of the nature of their work.

Another part of what prompted me to write this book is the hatred, just plain evil-spirited talk, that surrounds this book. This morning, the Chicago Tribune online edition had a story about a talk that Sandberg did in Chicago this week. You can watch the video and read the story here.  The article was short and sweet and gave an outline of the book. What struck me, though, were the comments by readers following the article. One reader commented “Sandberg is VIP who lives in a fairytale world of privilege and entitlement. Essentially, she’s a man living inside a woman’s body.” Another, “This lady is just another women from the [LIB] list who hasn”t turned gay, speaking to those who want to listen to her.” And, “It’s also time for men to lead. It’s been a while.” These are just a few comments that I’ve heard and seen repeated time and again about Sandberg and her book. Needless to say, I am sickened and appalled. When I was a young women, I was never told by my parents that there was anything I could not accomplish (except perhaps being an Olympic gymnast, as I was already 5’10” in the 5th grade.) How Sandberg’s book, which is a very positive, go forward and be all you can be type book can prompt anyone to say that she is a “man living inside a woman’s body” or that she has just not yet “turned gay” is ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. I want to rail in the face of these morons and ask them “do you really not believe that a woman can be successful?” That a woman does not have the ability or brains to lead a large company based solely on the fact that she has breasts and a vagina? How does that impact her ability to do her job? This woman went to HARVARD.  TWICE! That’s more than most men in the workforce, and yet she is denigrated. And, of course, because she believes that women CAN have a career and a family, and believes that women should receive equal pay for equal work, and have the same opportunities as men, she is somehow now a lesbian too. I believe those same things and I am not a lesbian. Nor are any of my other heterosexual friends who believe that. And even if we were, it so does not matter! Utterly ridiculous.  Comments like those quoted above are exactly why this book needs to be read–by men, by women, by parents with young daughters and young sons. It is beyond time for American society to understand that women are as smart as men, that women can excel in their chosen professions, and that simply having been born with breasts and a vagina is not a reason to be held back.

Some of the most vitriolic comments against Sandberg, though, have been from other women. I am at a loss as to how this can be.  If women cannot stand together and say in one voice “we are here, we are smart, we are capable, and we should have the same opportunities and choices that men do,” we will never get anything accomplished. A failure to do this is something that I will NEVER understand. Of course, I have my own theories why. I see it with friends I have who are stay at home moms who get defensive about the choice they have made. I see it with working mom friends who get defensive at the choices they have made. And I see it with couples who have chosen not to have children and get defensive about the choices they have made. When other people–friends, family and media–denigrate the choices we make, we lash out. When we are insecure about the choices we have made, we lash out. And when we feel backed into a corner by choices that have been made for us, we lash out. Ultimately, it is time that we stop attacking others for the life choices and career choices and childbearing choices that they have made that work for them, and start embracing them. My friend’s decision to stay home with her children does not impact my life in any way, nor does my decision to work impact hers (other than, perhaps, making it more difficult to find time to chat on the phone or meet up). These are #firstworldproblems to the nth degree and are not problems at all. Is it okay to be jealous of what Sandberg has accomplished and the rewards she has reaped as a result? Sure, I guess. If you use that jealousy in a healthy way to motivate yourself to change. If you just sit back and bitch and complain about her, you’ve accomplished NOTHING. One of the biggest lessons that I have learned in my late 20’s and early 30’s is that if you want to see change in your life, the onus is on you to effect it. Nobody else is going to come along and give you what you want on a silver platter. You want a new job? Find it. You want to meet someone to share your life with? Put yourself in situations that will allow it. You want to lose weight? Start moving. Eat less. It will all fall into place. But it takes effort. And good old fashioned elbow grease and hard work.

I’ve read a lot of books in my life on the issue of women’s studies, from Gloria Steinem to now Sheryl Sandberg. I’ve read a lot of business books, and life books (and let’s not forget trashy books too!). Lean In is important. It needs to be read. The ideas that Sandberg has hit on, need to be discussed openly and women and men need to support each other so we can all move forward in a productive society. Have any of you read the book? What were your thoughts? Opinions? Etc? Let me know! I haven’t been this excited to discuss a book since The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!

And of course, Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all my readers:)

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Holy Long Time Without a Post, Batman!

I seriously cannot even believe that my last post was several months ago. And then, when I stop to think about it, I actually can believe that my last post was several months ago. Makes me want to hang my head in shame since there have been so many times when I have said “I’m going to sit down and write a blog post” and then I get caught up doing other things…..reading a good book (is there any interest in book posts on here), eating, watching TV, Oscar movie season, working, even napping took precedence. Time to hang my head in shame for a few moments……(am actually hanging my head in shame right now).

But spring seems to have sprung here in the midwest (at least today it is, where it is nearly 50 and raining, melting our foot of snow we got 4 days ago)!  It is a time for new beginnings, spring cleaning, shedding the winter weight and doldrums that, at the very least, hit me in February. And time to start looking forward to a new season — gardening, cooking, new books, new knitting and the belief that one day soon I’ll be able to have my morning cup of coffee on the back porch without freezing my ass off.

Over the past few months, I have to admit that hubby and I have gotten off track with our Paleo eating. Things like Thanksgiving, Christmas, pasta, pizza and cookies called our names all too loudly…..and sometimes it was just easier to eat crappy food than take the time to sit down and make healthy eating a priority.  It is time for that to end and we sat down and made a healthy meal plan, which in turn made going to the grocery store a million times easier as I knew what we were eating and what we needed. Shocking, I know! Sometimes, we all need to be reminded of the simplest lessons. I went to the store and got lots of yummy foods. Huzzah! Sometimes, we have to take our success in the smallest ways.

One of the difficult things of late has been my new (and somewhat crazy, non-traditional work schedule). Back in October I got promoted (awesomesauce) and it was right as we went into the holiday retail season (which for non-retail people means we start in August with Christmas–no joke). I hopped right in with really long hours, shifting commutes as I went to different stores, and 6 day work weeks. This made, for me, getting healthy dinners on the table a bit less easy for the nights Patrick and I were able to eat together. So one of the things we are trying this time around is more easy prep stuff on the days I work when Patrick doesn’t cook (fancier dinners can wait til days off). Which, of course, leads me to the delightful meal we had last night for dinner.

At some point in the last few weeks, I’d pinned this recipe over on Pinterest for Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Bell Peppers. The photos were ah-mazing and looks so good and we LOVE Philly Cheesesteaks in this house (see my previous post on Paleo friendly Philly Cheesesteaks). This was a new take on it and I thought why not. So last night, after I got home from working way longer than I was scheduled for, I set to work replicating this. Since I like to have leftovers (makes lunch a lot easier the next day), we used the following ingredients:

  • 4 Large Green Bell Peppers
  • 1.5lb Sara Lee Rare Roast Beef (from the deli, on sale, score!)
  • Sliced Provolone Cheese
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion (sliced into half-rings)
  • 1 16oz container pre-sliced mushrooms (don’t judge me for not slicing my own, I was time saving)
  • A buncha minced garlic (do this to your own taste, I used about 1.5T)
  • Butter

In your pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions, mushrooms and garlic. Sautee until everything is carmelized beautifully. (About 20 minutes) See, doesn’t it look so gorgeous just cooking away?

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While that was cooking away, I sliced my peppers (cut the top off, then pull out the center, then slice in half from top down). Seed them and then lay them on a baking sheet with parchment.  Put 1 slice of provolone cheese in the bottom of each pepper. Like so:

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Once the onion/mushroom/garlic mixture is looking all sexy and carmelized, lay your slices of roast beef into the pan and get them all warmed up and mixed in with the onion/mushroom/garlic mix.  Once everything is sufficiently warmed up (this requires taste testing, so good), use your tongs or a spoon and transfer it into the individual peppers. Then, top each pepper with another slice of Provolone cheese.

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Bake the peppers at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Then, dive in! This was our result last night and they were so delicious!!!!!

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I cannot recommend this meal highly enough. I didn’t miss the bread of the sandwich at all and was filled up after eating them. Total prep time and cooking time was about 45 minutes, but it seemed much faster since you’re prepping different parts while things cook.

Tonight, we are having Korean Braised Vegetables and Chicken (first time trying Korean food) so keep your fingers crossed that it all turns out!

Hey Good Lookin’, Whatcha Got Cookin’?

So, one of my favorite, favorite, favorite blogs to read of late has been Holly Would If She Could. Holly is a Californian who eats Paleo, does Cross fit, loves to read, and garden and just seems like exactly the kind of sassy gal all my gal pals and I would be friends with. You know, if we lived in California, or she lived in Chicago. She’s also a huge inspiration because she has followed through on her decision to eat healthy, live healthy and get healthy and she looks fabulous. Whenever I get intimidated about how much weight I want to lose or get frustrated at how far I think I have to go, a quick hop over to her site gets me motivated again because it CAN be done.

One of my favorite features for her blog is her weekly roundup of what she’s planning for meals for the week. I look to her for inspiration, and maybe just copied half her meal plan this week since I was being lazy. Let’s face it — while we all have our tried and true dinners that we make week after week, because we love them and are familiar with them and can whip them up quickly, we all need to see new stuff in the mix. Also, and maybe it’s just me, but when I meal plan for my week, I eat better all around since I know, without question, here is what I’m having on Tuesday night and I don’t get to 5pm on Tuesday night and go “Oh holy fuck, I don’t have anything defrosted or that I want to eat.”  I also have a husband who literally made a face at me the last time I made Pioneer Woman’s Mustard Chicken (which I love, but yes, I may have started to put it too heavily into the rotation). New stuff was needed, and fast.

So, in a total homage to Holly, I figure I’d share what my meal plan for this week is!

Sunday:

Paleo Pad Thai

I came across this recipe on one of the Paleo food blogs I read and had almost everything on hand to make it. My husband is a HUGE fan of Thai food and I always enjoy trying my hand at new things. I had to substitute an onion for a shallot and peanuts for macadamia nuts, but the result was DELISH. And it definitely made more than just 2 servings of food, so I have leftovers to enjoy for my lunch:) Go me!

Monday:

Meatballs and a Kickass Salad — This is actually for my husband and his friend Jon who is coming over tonight, as I will be having Ladies Dancing With the Stars dinner celebration! The meatballs are simmering away in the Crockpot for the guys to enjoy whenever they get hungry, and the bonus is I made so much that I’ll surely have lunchtime leftovers this week. Huzzah!

Tuesday:

Grilled Bell Peppers and Onion and Turkey Sausage — Now that it’s warm it’s getting to be grilling season, so I plan on making this one a lot. It’s also something Patrick can eat without getting sick of it. It’s spectacularly easy, sinfully delicious and will be the subject of its own post really soon. I promise:)

Wednesday:

Grilled Tuscan Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary (totally stole this recipe from Holly’s blog this week, but it looks too goddamn good not to eat) & Grilled Lemon-Garlic Broccoli

Thursday:

Paleolasagna — I don’t know what to say about this meal except that just looking at the picture is making me unbelievably hungry and excited for this dinner. Check it out, I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Friday:

Taco Salad Bar Night!

Saturday:

Leftovers or maybe eating out or maybe a quick stir-fry or maybe Patrick will be cooking. We are hosting a big barbeque on Sunday for our dear friends who are moving away and I know there will be tons of cooking and food prep for that, and I know I won’t want to cook a big Saturday meal.

I’m planning on making this a weekly feature, and would LOVE to hear what you all are making this week….new recipes and ideas are always fun and always welcome!

How to Measure Success…..

First off, sorry for the prolonged absence from the blog these past few weeks.  Unfortunately, I was stricken down with a wicked case of walking pneumonia with double ear infections that knocked me, quite literally, on my ass. And it has taken me a lot longer to get back up and going than even I thought it would. Add on the minutiae of life and some other stuff that’s going on and all of a sudden posting on my blog wasn’t on the highest of priority lists for me. I apologize, dear reader, and hope to be much better about being on the bandwagon of blogging and sharing recipes and updating food stuff and talking about the paleo lifestyle.

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot since we started to seriously change our eating habits and strategies has been “how do you measure victories, scale related and not”?   Obviously, when weight loss is one of your active goals for a lifestyle change, the scale figures into your life.  Whether you weight yourself obsessively 10 times a day, or you weigh yourself once a week, or even every two weeks, the little digital number on the scale going DOWN is the biggest “in your face” indicator of success.  (I would, of course, prefer to see the number on the scale go down in 10 pound increments on a weekly basis, but let’s face it, that just ain’t realistic.)  But the scale isn’t the only way to measure your weight loss success.  This is something that I’ve been struggling with over the past few weeks as my husband is losing weight at a much more rapid pace than I am.  Now, that’s not to say I’m not doing pretty well, too, it’s just that the number on that scale isn’t going down as much for me as it is for him. And honestly it can be somewhat demoralizing.

When we first started eating paleo, it was post holidays, I knew I had been eating like absolute shit (consuming fast food, starchy foods, pastas, lots of simple carbs, cookies and alcohol).  I also knew that if I stepped on the scale right away, I would probably have a heart attack at the number and give up immediately, thinking that there was no way I could make any type of progress.  So for the first 3 weeks that we were starting to change our eating habits, I didn’t weigh myself.  I gave myself an interlude, if you will, to start making healthy choices without the pressure of that digital number staring me in the face on the scale.  I did my first “official” weigh in on February 9, 2012, and even after a few weeks of eating better, and starting to feel better, I wasn’t happy with where I was at. But it spurned me on to at least keep trying, because I knew I had made progress in the past weeks. My pants weren’t as tight. I moved with more ease. I had a bit less back pain.

Since that first weigh in, we have continued to eat paleo (yes, with some slip ups and some cheat days and even an evening at a wedding where I ate some of the cake — and oh God was it delicious!). I try to weigh myself no more than once per week, since I know my body well enough to know that there are daily fluctuations depending on everything from hormones, period weight, having a cocktail the night before, etc. With these weekly (and sometimes even biweekly) weigh ins, I’ve hit the point where I’ve lost 27 pounds.  I see that number and have a  lot of different feelings about it — elation at the fact that 27 pounds is a big fucking deal and I’m not carrying it around with me anymore.  Disappointment because I wish it was a little bit more.  A lot of fear because I know that I’ve gotten to this point before, where I’ve had success at losing weight and then fall off the bandwagon again, thinking that I can afford a cheat day, which turns into a cheat weekend, which turns into a cheat week, and all of a sudden that forward momentum is gone.  There’s also fear, too, because I see the 27 pounds as just a drop in the bucket of what I’d like to lose and where I’d like to eventually end up. It is so much, and yet it really isn’t at the same time.

And then, a few days ago, something happened that made me see beyond the 27 pounds, to see that my body really was changing in a way that was moving toward my long-term goals — I put on my jeans, jeans that I wore almost daily, after they had been washed and dried, and would be at their tightest.  And they were literally sliding down my hips.  To the point where I had concerns that my pants were going to fall off, leaving me showing off my undies to the world, or maybe just my dog since I hadn’t left the house.  I thought it was a fluke at first (because of course my first thought is that it’s a fluke and my success isn’t showing in that way) and so I tried on another pair of jeans — a pair from my “skinner days” if you can call them that.  And they fit. Pretty comfortably.  They weren’t loose, by any stretch of the imagination, but they were comfortable. And I could sit in them. And stand in them. And not be out of breath wearing them.  And so I started to pay a bit more attention to my body in the mirror and noticed that the visible changes were there — smaller love handles, definitely loss of inches around my waist and a slightly smaller butt.

When I was going to Weight Watchers, they called these the “non scale victories or NSV” and the leaders usually made a big deal of them and we all clapped and patted ourselves on the back for them.  Once, one of my NSV was literally not eating cake that had been in the break room at work for someone’s going away party — at the time, it was a big fucking deal. I wanted to devour that cake, but I didn’t.  Over the past week or so, as I started to really pay attention to how my clothes were fitting, and how I looked in the mirror before a shower (and let’s face it, standing naked in front of a mirror and actually looking at yourself can be one of the most terrifying things in the world), I realized that while I had gotten hung up on the number on the scale, some of these little “non scale victories” were passing me by and that I needed to enjoy them too.

What are your non-scale victories, if you’re trying to lose weight or change your lifestyle? What types of things do you look to for inspiration when the number you see on the scale isn’t where you would like it to be?

One of my inspirations? Other people’s blogs. I read a bunch of blogs on a daily basis, for recipes, books, knitting, etc., but there are a few that have become personal favorites. The one I like the most is Holly Would If She Could. Patrick actually got me reading this blog by sending me a link from Reddit to one of her pages where she had listed 30 Paleo friendly crockpot recipes she wanted to try. After a bit of digging and about 3 hours of reading her thoughts, I felt like I knew her. Holly writes with an honesty about her body and herself that I would love to have flow freely and is funny and sarcastic and measures in just the right amount of self-deprecation and positivity. I highly recommend you check her blog out, and her twitter feed too.  She reminds me of Jennifer Garner in the way that I feel like if she lived in Chicago (or for some reason I lived in California) and we crossed paths, we would be friends.  Her blog, like Pioneer Woman, has become one of the ones that I save to read last because I know I’ll always enjoy it. So please, check it out:)

RibFest, or as I like to call it, The Best Way to Spend a Sunday!

Just a quick post about what we did last Sunday.  It was the annual RibFest in Chicago (on Lincoln from Irving Park to Montrose).  What could be better than a 75 degree sunny Sunday in Chicago, spent with friends at a RibFest, oinking on ribs, grabbing beers and having fun with some of our best friends? Not much, I tell ya.  It was a great opportunity for some pictures, which I feel compelled to share as sort of a “picto-blog” of our day.

 

Seems like everybody else had the same idea we did on how to spend a non-rainy day in Chicago.  I literally just held the camera up and took the picture.  Ah, the joys of being tall.  This is the crowd down Lincoln Avenue as we all queue up for ribs.

 

Our first stop of the day — Brown Trout!

 

Where we got our first sweet corn of the season.  And ginger ale and lime slushees.

This is what happiness looks like.  Sweet corn is Patrick’s favorite food and he’s gobbling up the first sampling of the season.

 

No street fest would be complete without two random guys with a guitar playing old Johnny Cash songs behind the grills.

 

Fifteen minutes in and we’ve lost Neal.  He went to the beer tent and never returned.  I resorted to trying to find him via taking pictures.  It didn’t work.  He did turn up about 20 minutes later, though.  With beer and ribs.  He was okay.

 

See? Beer in hand, all is okay!

 

The ribs? Well, they were finger-licking good! Course, when aren’t ribs finger-licking good?

We lost Neal yet again….but in our search for him, came across a mobile pork smoker! I have to admit, that’s one truck I wouldn’t mind being behind on the road!

 

We found Neal again (only the second time he got lost, people, the day is still young!), but he was just browsing at one of the fine local retailers offering inflatable superheros.  (I seriously hope he wasn’t shopping for a wedding present for us there:))

 

After some more beers, and ribs, and watching of pork being cooked, we decided we were ready to wrap up the day.  We all wanted something sweet, decided to grab some malts from The Malt Shoppe booth (fantastic, you really must try them sometime), and of course, Neal got lost again.  We were able to establish cell phone contact, Neal told us he was in the CVS parking lot waiting for us and off we went.

 

THERE IS NO NEAL HERE!!!!!

 

I have to admit, at this point, we were all tired of crowds and just wanted to go home and kick back….however, as we were down a man, we had to improvise on the relaxation techniques of our choice while we waited for him to show up.  Thank God for good cell phone service!

 

And, finally, Neal was located.  In the children’s play area NEAR the CVS parking lot:

 

So, that’s how we spent OUR Sunday in the city.  No better way to do it!

Pitchers and Catchers Report — It’s Time to Play Catch-Up…..

Sadly, I have not kept up on my book reviews, which is both maddening (for me) and distressing (for you, fair readers!). Do I have any type of valid excuse? Nope, not really. Other than that I read fast, and have not been good about sitting down shortly after finishing a book to gather my thoughts about it. Unfortunately, life, reading, knitting, cooking, and my other blog have gotten in the way of posting on a regular basis.  In fact, it is with shame that I report that I have read fourteen, yes, fourteen books, since my last post.  Ultimately, after thinking about it and letting the idea of how best to get caught up marinate, it has come to be — a quick, catch-up blog that gives a speedy review of the books and let’s me start fresh.  Otherwise, it would be like starting the to-do list with 20 huge projects on it and you look at it and realize that there’s no way in HELL you’ll ever get anywhere with it.  So, here goes!

Book #13 — Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Literature/Fiction) — For the past few years, I had seen this particular tome at the bookstore, would pick it up and think to myself that I should read it, and then something else would catch my eye. and it would get put back on the shelf. Add in that the book takes place in a circus, and that I do not like clowns, and it was not tough to see why I wasn’t racing to read it.  However, this past spring the movie was being released featuring Reese Witherspoon, one of my favorite actresses.  After seeing clips and trailers, I decided to read the book and am I glad I did or what! I gave this book 5 of 5 stars.  The author grabbed my attention right away and held it throughout, keeping me up late following the saga of the main characters, the circus and of course, the animals.  Within about 50 pages, I found myself passionately caring about the characters and rooting for them and wanting the best for them, which, in my mind, is what a good book is all about.  I still have yet to see the movie, but definitely can say you have to read the book!

Book #14 — It’s All Relative by Wade Rouse (Memoir) — I read one of Rouse’s earlier memoirs about moving from St. Louis to small-town Michigan a few years back and was howling, absolutely howling, with laughter.  When I saw that he had a new book coming out, I immediately pre-ordered it on my Nook, waiting with eager anticipation for the day that it would download automatically at midnight of the release date.  As I started reading, Rouse delivered on his trademark witty, smart and gay humor, regaling me with stories of life with his life-partner, Gary, and growing up gay in Oklahoma.  After a couple of entries, the stories turned a little more serious as Rouse wrote of serious issues, i.e., coming out, family members’ deaths and his parents’ mortality.  (Obviously, those stories did not contain as much laughter as the other parts.)  I finished the book and had enjoyed it.  I gave it 4 of 5 stars, based on the strength of the author and his collective work.  Originally, I was going to give it 3 stars, as I did not laugh as much at this book as I did his previous work, and I realized that was me being silly.  The writing was great, the stories hilarious AND poignant and that when an author chooses to show us the sadder and more serious sides, those are the ones that we cherish.  I look forward to Rouse’s future works.

Book #15 — Clean by Dr. Alejandro Junger (Health/Non-Fiction) — I picked this book up after a friend from college posted on Facebook that she had been reading it.  Clean is the semi-biographical story of Dr. Junger and his health care program that involves eliminating certain foods from your diet, as they are toxic, and a cleanse program to improve your health.  It is based substantially on tenets of Eastern healing and talks primarily about how what we choose to put into our bodies shapes how we feel and live.  A must read for anyone with food allergies, health issues, stomach pain or my favorite diagnosis, IBS.

Book #16 — Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain (Essays/Memoir) — Most importantly, this is Off the Shelf Challenge Book #7! I’ll say right off the bat that I am a HUGE fan of Anthony Bourdain, his television show No Reservations, his previous books and his Twitter feed. He is ranchy and honest and funny (add in hot too — sorry, P!). I’d read each of his previous books and flown through them, sucking up every word he had about working in a restaurant, travels, and food all throughout the world.  When I saw that he was releasing Medium Raw last summer, I leapt on it the day it was released, started it and then put it down for about 10 months.  This book just did NOT grab me and hold my attention the way his previous books had, which saddened me greatly.  Mostly, I felt that the stories lacked a unifying theme and were just a bunch of essays that he had thrown together to fill his page requirement.  Does it make me hate Bourdain? Absolutely not.  I’ve just decided I’ll look before I leap when it comes to racing out to buy his next book.  I give Bourdain 3 of 5 stars.

Book #17 — The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen (Mystery/Series) — Yay! Another Off the Shelf Challenge Book!!! #8! The Keepsake is the 7th book in the Rizzoli and Isles series by Gerritsen.  From the first moment I picked the book up I could not put it down and I simply devoured it — the mystery story was fantastic and gripping, and the development of the underlying characters was well-done.  Flat out, this book was a 5 of 5 stars.  Some authors after a few books featuring the same character get stale, but not Gerritsen.

Book #18 — The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (Literature/Fiction) — Off the Shelf Challenge Book #9 — This was the sophomore effort from Tartt who had penned The Secret History, one of my all-time favorite books.  The story was completely different from that featured in History and follows the main character, Harriet, as she investigates her brother’s mysterious death 12 years earlier when she was just a baby.  The book was at times horrifying, slow, maddening, filled with snakes and moments that made you want to reach through the pages, grab Harriet and shake her senseless while screaming “What do you think you’re doing!” The book is the favorite of one of my best friends and had come so highly recommended by many that I finally picked it up after having it on the shelf for a good 5 years? When I finished the book, I could not say if I had liked it or hated it.  In fact, I still cannot say which it is.  The book was prosaic and so well-written that if you read it solely for the writing you’ll do well.  The story, as it develops, is not one anyone would race out to read as it is not a “feel good” story.  But overall, I think the book is an important work in modern American literature, which is quite a statement.  I personally gave it 3 of 5 stars, mostly for story elements that I did not enjoy on a personal level.  If I was rating it by removing that, the book would have received 5 of 5 stars.  It’s like East of Eden.  You may just have to read this book.

Book #19 — Composed by Roseanne Cash (Memoir) — For years I’ve been a fan of Johnny Cash’s music and books and I recently started listening to Roseanne Cash’s albums.  Like her father, she is a talented singer/songwriter, her Twitter feed is hilarious and her book was well-written, and compelling.  Cash made me laugh and cry in the same book, and I cannot recommend her work enough.  5 of 5 stars!

Book #20 — Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs (Mystery/Series) — This is the 4th book by Reichs featuring Temperance Brennan, who many may know from the Fox TV show Bones.  As I’ve written in previous posts, there is not much similarity between the books and the TV show, other than the main character’s name.  However, both are thoroughly enjoyable.  This book revolves around Brennan investigating the cause of a commercial plane crash that  killed everyone on board, and leads her to uncovering a decades old cannibal club with prominent members.  As always, a good read and the character development was excellent.  4 of 5 stars.

Book #21 — The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson (Health/Non-Fiction) — This book was recommended to me by my brother, who has followed TPB eating plan for several years and dropped over 100 pounds.  The author essentially advocates the return to a hunter/gatherer eating lifestyle that focuses on lean meats, vegetables and certain fruits, while avoiding processed foods, which are insideously evil for our bodies and health.  As with Clean, it is a must read for anybody who has been diagnosed with food allergies, Celiac’s disease or IBS.  Following the TPB plan has changed my life in a distinctly positive way!  4 of 5 stars.

Book #22 — Juliet by Anne Fortier — I picked this book up after a college friend whose reading tastes I greatly respect read it and raved about it.  The story follows a young woman, Juliet, as she travels from the US to Italy to trace her family’s history and attempt to get to the bottom of her parents’ deaths and the “curse” that follows their family.  Legend has it that the curse formed the basis of the story of Romeo and Juliet and Juliet sets out to get to the bottom of it.  The book flashes between modern day and the 1300’s at the beginning of the legend.  The book was unique, well-written and I highly recommend it.  4 of 5 stars!

Book #23 — Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal (Tween Fiction) — When I heard that Pascal was publishing a book that followed the characters from the SVH books into adulthood, I knew I had to read it.  I had grown up reading the SVH books during my youth and was just plain curious to see how the old gang would fair into adulthood.  The book was whimsical and more nostalgic than anything else.  The writing was not great, the story was not well-developed and ultimately, what occured between the sisters at the end seemed far-fetched.  But isn’t that the whole point of the SVH books?  I think so.  2 of 5 stars, for the nostalgia alone is worth reading it!

Book #24 — Game of Thrones (Fire and Ice #1) by George R.R. Martin (Fantasy) — O.M.G.  This book was so damn good it’s going to get it’s own blog post in the next few days.  5 of 5 stars.  Absolutely amazing and I’ve heard the series only gets better.  If you haven’t read it, get it!

Book #25 — Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen (Mystery/Series) — Off the Shelf Challenge #10 — This book is the 8th in the series featuring Rizzoli and Isles.  I personally did not like the mystery part of the story at all, as it dealt with a cult that involved kids, which is something that I do not like AT ALL! The furtherance of the character development and interpersonal dealings was the only reason that I kept reading the book, as I love the series and will continue to read it.  For me, this book was an abberation in what I’ve come to expect from Gerritsen.  3 of 5 stars.

Book #26 — Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (Mystery/Fantasy/Series) — This book is the 11th in the series featuring Sookie Stackhouse, and the basis for the HBO show True Blood.  Every May Harris publishes a new book in the series and I immediately grab it up and read in a day or so, then spend the next 363 days whining about how I don’t have another Sookie for a whole year.  This year followed in exactly the same pattern and the story was GREAT.

And finally, Book #27 — The Pioneer Woman: From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond (Memoir) — This is the memoir book of a blogger that I read, http://www.thepioneerwoman.com, which is run by a city girl turned country girl who married a cattle rancher and picked up from the city to move to the middle of nowhere.  I was at the library, just about to check out, and the book caught my eye on the new releases shelf and I picked it up. Drummond’s writing is funny, witty, poignant and just the right amount of self-depricating.  She makes the reader long to live out on a cattle ranch, even when they’ve been born and bred in the city.  In this book, Drummond tells the story of meeting her husband, upheaving her entire life and her plans to move to Chicago to marry her love and live on a cattle ranch.  The book is a quick and enjoyable read, although it seemed a bit tedious at points. I attribute this more to the publisher’s page requirements than the author’s wordiness, as I’ve read her for quite some time and she’s a lovely writer. All in all, a quick and enjoyable read — 3 of 5 stars.

And now that we are all caught up on what I’ve been reading over the past 2 months, fair reader, I can promise you this — I do hope to be better at posting about my books on a regular basis.  More importantly, I realized that I committed to reading 30 books in the Off the Shelf Challenge and not just the 15 I thought that I had — whoops! Time to get my ass in gear and get moving on that bookshelf, because we are almost halfway through the year and I’m only 1/3 of the way done. My biggest problem is that there are far too many books to read and just too little time!

Until next time, happy reading:)

Catch up, Catch up, and yes, more Catch up!

What up, fair and happy readers? Yet again, I know I’ve abandoned you all and slacked off in my blogging duties, self-imposed duties as they may be.  I was exchanging emails with a friend about a week ago and she asked about an update post and I thought, yes, I do need to get back into the old blogosphere.  I’m sorry, I don’t have any excuses for not blogging other than laziness and dedicating my time to other pursuits.

When last we met, the weight loss program that I had been following, Weight Watchers, had just completely revamped their entire program (and yes, right after I learned all the points values of almost every food I ate). I went to the meetings to learn more about their new Points Plus system (PP), and liked what I saw. The PP system finally caught up with the nutrition research from the last 10 years that shows that not all calories are created equal, that processed foods, even if only 100 calories, aren’t as healthy for you as fruits and veggies, and then realigned the points system.  A girlfriend from high school pointed out in an email to me that under the new system, since she can eat fruits and veggies to her heart’s content, she’s no longer starving herself, which was part of her problem on the initial points plan with WW.  And I had to agree.  I kept with it for a bit, but then had some additional issues to deal with health-wise, that impacted my participation in the WW program.

See, one of the things I love most in the world is pasta. And bread. One of the things that I enjoyed most about the WW program was that I could still enjoy my favorite processed foods, just in moderation. However, over the past few months, whenever I was eating foods that were processed like that, I was getting horribly sick (not only was it not pretty, it was extremely uncomfortable and made eating a total nightmare — a hard thing for this fatty, since I love to eat!). Luckily, I have a lot of knowledge about Celiac’s disease and gluten intolerance, as both my grandmother and cousin suffer from Celiac’s. A quick couple of calls with my doctor and she recommended that I cut out gluten (which occurs most commonly in wheat-based products). I made that change, and have to say, that there was a massive improvement in my life.

At the same time, another friend from college was reading a book, Clean, that looked fascinating.  I, ever the avid reader, immediately got it from the library and started reading.  I liked it so much that I went out and bought the book for myself.  The book was written by a NY doctor who had been suffering from a series of health problems himself. When he went to his various doctors, they all had the same solution — pop a pill.  That wasn’t acceptable to him, and so he started doing substantial research into nutrition and Eastern methods of healing.  He radically changed his diet by cutting out caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, and a variety of other things, which resolved many of his issues. He also found that by doing this he did not suffer from allergy problems, his depression was gone and his general health improved.  Part of the Clean nutrition plan was a cleanse, that required smoothies for breakfast and dinner.  I myself was not sure that I could handle such a thing, so I decided to start smaller and follow his elimination diet, by eliminating more foods from my diet beyond gluten.  After a few weeks of having cut out processed foods, starches, simple carbs and refined sugars, as well as limiting my caffeine and alcohol intake, I had results — not only were my stomach problems virtually gone, but my general physical health was improved. My joints ached less, my ease of movement increased, and skin, hair and nails were all improved too. However, to be completely honest, the diet proposed by Dr. Junger in Clean is a highly restrictive diet. It does not make allowances for things like dairy, which I enjoy and are a good source of protein, caffeine, any alcohol and certain meats (mostly red).

Therefore, after looking around, I remembered my brother was doing a diet that was carb-restrictive, but that he had much success on it and wasn’t in the least bothered by not being able to eat certain things.  I talked to him and he told me that he follows Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint. The core concept of TPB is along the lines of the “hunter-gatherer” diet, i.e., that we Americans have become far too dependent on processed foods, including grains and pastas, as well as refined sugars, which have led to our obesity problems and other health problems. Instead, Sisson proposes eating in a manner more similar to how our ancestors ate — fresh, fresh, fresh. Our cavemen ancestors did not have the ability to harvest wheat, process it and package it so that it could last for 8 years and still be okay to eat, therefore, we should not eat that way.  He argues that by eating simple carbs, our body latches on to them and makes it virtually impossible to maintain weight, much less lose weight, and that our body is not getting the energy that it needs to perform. TPB plan is pretty simple — avoid processed foods, simple carbs, i.e., pastas, breads, starches, and refined sugars. Eat veggies, lean proteins, eggs, some fruits (berries, which are low-carb and high fiber) and exercise moderately — according to Sisson, if you’re beating your body into the ground doing hours of cardio and heavy weights each week, you’re tearing yourself down. In lieu, try a moderate routine….some movement, a walk, yoga, stretching. After talking to my brother (who liked even fewer fruits and veggies than me as a kid), I was convinced this was something I could do.

We removed all the pastas from our house (let’s face it, my biggest temptation — I LOVE popping in some pasta for a quick dinner; yet I always feel logi (Patrick’s word) after eating it and don’t want to move). I’ve always enjoyed lean meats and don’t have a problem cooking meet, so we made sure to have stuff on hand for our evening meals, and we loaded up on veggies.  Cottage cheese became a good filler for me for a snack, and also a great accompaniment to our dinner on those days when I felt I needed something more than just veggies and protein.  Breakfast was also a challenge, since I was a fan of cereal and bagels, God I love bagels.  Until I realized there are 56 carbs in the bagels that I was eating — that is ridiculous!  Now, they are a treat and eggs are my go-to breakfast. Not only are they virtually carb-less, they are low in calories, high in protein and give me energy. Plus, I love eggs.

The first 2 weeks were a little difficult, as there were times I didn’t want to make a big production out of cooking and pasta would be a great answer, but we pushed past them.  I’m at about the 6 week mark on the TPB plan, and for the most part it is going well.  Patrick and I do have a cheat day (usually Saturdays) when we allow ourselves to have carbs or dessert, which we normally wouldn’t do during the week. The most jarring thing for me has been realizing that when I put fresh foods into my body, and treat it well, that my body starts to crave those things instead of the foods that are bad for me.  For example, I’ve always been an after-dinner eater (more psychological than anything). I adored eating pretzels in the evening.  However, in the evenings now, if I’m craving something a little sweet, I’ve actually gotten to the point where my body wants berries with some Cool Whip (full fat this time, thank you, less bad chemicals) instead of a brownie or cookies or ice cream. We had a cake for my birthday and it was good, but after eating it for a bit, it was too heavy, chemically and sugary for me. I cannot remember the last time I had a pretzel, and there is a pack of double-stuff Oreo’s on the counter right now that I had gotten for Patrick at his request and after having a few, I didn’t want anymore.  My berries in the bowl beside me are even better.  Nom, nom, nom, strawberry break.

I’ve noticed many changes since I’ve started the TPB program, both big and small.  The biggest change I’ve noticed is my energy levels and general feeling of wellness.  I’m sleeping better, am definitely better hydrated, and my joints aren’t as achy as before.  I’m trying to eat when hungry and not became it is “time to eat” by conventional standards, and my body is craving foods I should be eating instead of bad foods.

That is a HUGE change for me — even when doing WW I found I still craved processed foods and refined sugars.  Why? Because I was still able to eat them on that plan. For me, I couldn’t do that anymore.  If WW says I can have pastas in my house, I’m going to gravitate toward that, which only perpetuates feeling sick, weight gain and general malaise for me. A few weeks ago, I cancelled my WW membership.  It just wasn’t what I needed right now to get where I want to be.

I’ve also added in a different type of yoga than I was previously doing — bikram yoga.  For years I’ve struggled with back problems after herneating and then rupturing several discs in my back.  I was very lucky that through physical therapy I was able to avoid surgery. I used to do hatha yoga, which was lovely, but it includes a lot of inversions i.e., poses where your on your hands and knees, or feet and knees, with the back contracting and expanding.  Turns out, according to my chiropractor, not so good for me with my issues. Inversions are apparently a no-no for people with L5/S1 herniation and related hip arthritis.  Damn the man! My good friend Stephanie also has the same problems and had been raving for a long time about the cult that is Bikram Yoga. It’s hot as a motherfucker in that room — 105 degrees to be exact. And there are 26 poses that are done as the muscles warm up and you sweat more than you’ve ever sweated in your entire life. However, there aren’t any inversions, which my back likes. The sweating blows the toxins right out of your system and the amount of calories you burn during a 90 minute class is unbelievable — 1500+! (According to my Daily Burn iPhone app). I’ve gone several times and am going to try really hard to keep up with it.  It’s one hell of a workout and I feel like I’ve been beatdown immediately after I’m done, but it is worth it for the post-workout feeling of bliss — again, sleeping better, leaner muscles, better energy. Those are things I can get behind.  Bikram Yoga Andersonville offers a $30 month unlimited package for introductory members and then has a bunch of other deals for ongoing yoga classes.  The teachers are great and everybody is really positive there. They never make you feel bad for being unable to do a pose and just want to see you keep trying and improving. And, on a completely pseudo-selfish note, it makes me feel less bad about not being able to do all the poses when super physically fit people in the class are sitting down to take a break and regroup. If you’re in the Chicago area, I highly suggest trying it!

So for now, that’s where I’m at and where I’m headed. I’m hoping to keep posting more often (just gotta make the time, like I do for working out!).

Change, You’ve Come at a Good Moment in Time….

This morning, Weight Watchers officially unveiled their new PointsPlus plan, which they have been leading up to in the past few weeks.  I logged on to the WW site, which finally works with Google Chrome, my browser of choice, and checked out the beginnings of the new program.  It’s a BIG change from the way things have been done in the past by WW.  Big change! And frankly, it seems to have come at a time when I’ve hit an all-time low and become complacent in my dedication to the plan, working out, etc.

 

How did Fatty Gal become so complacent you ask, dear reader (and I mean all 3 of you when I say that)? Well, complacency is bred by comfort. Over the past few weeks, I have to admit that I haven’t been writing down everything I eat, because I was keeping a mental tally in my head and knew the approximate Points values of my regular foods. I’ve also become MUCH better at eating vegetables and making sure that fruits and veggies are a part of our meals, etc. So, I knew I was getting a lot of good foods, with zero or limited points values, mixed in too. But what I realized over the gluttony that was Thanksgiving, and believe me, I enjoyed the day of food to the greatest extent humanly possible, was that I needed to get back to the basics, which for me means tracking, measuring and being mindful.

 

Let’s face it, here in Chicago, it is also quickly getting really cold, which makes me want to do nothing more than curl up on the couch, under a blanket, with a steaming hot mug of hot cocoa and nosh my way through til spring. I know that it is not a good idea, but my body and mind are going into hibernation mode and I’ve been thinking over the past week or so that unless I want to be air-lifted out of our house this coming spring, I’m going to have to just bite the bullet, get outside in the cold and get a grip back into the world of reality.

 

Thus, what better than the unveiling of a NEW Points Plan that is going to require me to relearn the tracking system, be committed to writing everything down, and watch what I toss in my maw? I know, it has come right when it needed to.  Upon cursory investigation, the new PointsPlus Plan looks interesting, and I’m curious to learn more….I’m definitely going to have to hit up my weekly meeting on Wednesday to get the low-down, as I somehow now have 48 daily points, 49 weekly points to use, and all the previously assigned Points values that I knew and loved and relied on, are all wonky. Fruit is zero points? Really? Sweet.  But wait, a chicken breast is now more points? Waaaah!

 

Darwin taught us that if we don’t adapt, we will drift off into extinction. So, it’s time for me to get my game back on and learn the new ways before I become a dinosaur!

The Good, The Bad & The Goals…sans Clint Eastwood

So, it has been a VERY busy last two weeks for me, from getting engaged (YAY!), to the holiday weekend, getting Patrick to and from the PAX convention in Seattle, and hitting up a family wedding and a multitude of other Labor Day happenings. It is hard to even know where to start, so let’s jump right in!

Last Wednesday, Patrick and I went to our local comic book store, Brainstorm Comics, to pick up our weekly comics and catch up on the happenings with Rob, Matt and Sean. When I was handed my stack of comics, there was one on top that didn’t look familiar and was a different size. As I looked closer, I saw the comic had a picture of me on the front — “WTF” was my immediate thought. So, I opened it, and read it, and I realized that Patrick had made it for me and it was a comic book proposal! Of course, I said yes, and we are now being inundated with questions of all types regarding the wedding, and some have even moved on to when we are having kids.  Um, let’s slow that train down a little bit people. Unfortunately, we were the only two people who thought we should get to enjoy being engaged for a week or so before the wedding fervor started!

Sadly, the day after Patrick proposed, he had to board a plane to head to Seattle for his first-ever PAX convention…with airfare courtesy of my parents’ frequent flier miles (thanks, mom and dad!).  Lucky for me, I’m pretty comfortable hanging out on my own.  I had an entire weekend of activities planned, including enjoying an entire bottle of wine while finishing a book during the thunderstorms we had here on Thursday night. Sometimes, it IS the little things.

Although, as this blog is largely about my weight loss attempts, etc., I should point out that Thursday night was pretty much where the being “good” and “sticking to the Plan” part of the weekend went south.  I got home from work and errands late and did not feel like cooking.  And, since it was just me at home, it didn’t seem worthwhile to do anything other than order takeout from, of all places, Leona’s. However, while it IS possible to order food from Leona’s that is Points friendly and would keep me on Plan, ordering from Leona’s while starving is NEVER a good idea….chicken and pasta and cheesy garlic bread later, I was happy as a clam and stuffed like a hog headed for slaughter. I honestly was not too worried about it and was not going to feel guilty about it either, because I was hungry, I enjoyed what I had a taste for and I didn’t eat all the garlic bread by myself:) Course, I didn’t write down what I ate either, or the Points associated with the bottle of wine that I drank, but such is life. I feel like it is remarkable progress that I did not, and do not, feel guilty about taking some time off the WW wagon.

On to the “good” as it relates to food — on Saturday, I was going to a wedding for Patrick’s cousin, and had actually planned for what our meeting leader Maggie calls a “planned diversion,” where I know that I am going to go over on my Points. I mean, it IS a wedding and there IS going to be cake there, so it would be rude not to eat the cake, right?  Except for, wait for it, they did NOT serve cake. Or any type of pastry dessert.  Yes, that’s right, you read correctly–no cake, no pies, no cupcakes, NADA. What we DID get instead was a single scoop of vanilla ice cream with generic toppings from Costco so we could make our own ice cream sundaes.  Lesson #1 in wedding planning: do not gip people out of their cake.  There was practically an insurrection led by Patrick’s grandmother. The WW bonus of the lack of cake was that I didn’t end up using the remainder of my weekly points allowance on dessert. Yay!

All of this, however, leads me to reassessing my goals. I had been posting weekly goals for a while, and many of them have become habit at this point, which is A-W-E-S-O-M-E! However, I realized that on top of the small weekly goals, I need some hard-core motivation too. Something that will make me want to get up and go outside for a walk (or even, God forbid, a run), especially as the weather gets colder outside. So now, I have decided to attach some “incentives” to my weight loss.  Drumroll, please…..

1.  When I lose 30 pounds (total from my starting weight), I get to treat myself to a new tattoo.  I have been wanting a tattoo for a while now, but had not yet taken the plunge to go and get it done. Now, I know that in order to get the tattoo, I have to get off the couch and get moving.

2.  When I hit the 50 pound mark, I am going to treat myself to a new purse.  OMG, I love purses, and I got the new Coach catalog that has some really gorgeous pieces in it. This alone is motivation to make me want to run in place at my desk while at work.

3.  When I hit the 100 pound mark, I am going to treat myself to the new digital, SLR camera that I wanted to get. I’ve developed an interest in photography and would like to upgrade the quality of my camera. Now, for every pound I lose, I am going to be one step closer to getting that camera and taking all the amazing, high-resolution pictures that I want.

Now, off to enjoy a walk, with jogging intervals mixed in, as I work toward goal number 1, a smokin’ hot new tattoo!