Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beautiful Day Today

Am still hating the fact that the little orange cat got hit by some random stranger in a car who was too busy/drunk/indifferent whatever to see that he was trying to cross the street.

But am trying to let it go. I just hope he didn't suffer.

It was lovely in the park this morning. In fact, it was so beyond gorgeous in one particular part that I had to whip out the cell phone and take some snaps, despite knowing my camera phone can never do my light-filled park justice.

Northern Ramble of Central Park, approximately 9:34 am.
And just one more.
I'd upload more but the computer is super slow tonight. Enjoy, and I'll be back with more.

Oh...right, how's my week going in regards to weight loss (the reason I started this blog, after all!). Um. Not great.

For a variety of reasons, this has turned into a boozy week. Alcohol is kind of ever-present in my career, and I have to be very careful to avoid office gatherings, which tend to be beer-fueled.

Normally that's not hard for me. While I do enjoy a nice hoppy beer, I really prefer wine. I often just skip the the drinks with no effort. But this week was different.

Wine over the weekend, beer on Wednesday night because of a totally random (once-in-a-lifetime) chance to swap stories with a legendary columnist at a local bar.

Eating has been spotty. Not weight loss portions for dinner, and yesterday I even took a cookie from the snack station at work. I have not sampled anything from that station for over a year.

It was only one, but it worried me. I'd broken that habit. Do not want it coming back.

Also, fighting a cold, and somehow hurt my knee. Thursday morning's walk to work was my only exercise this week.

So I'm not looking forward to weigh in.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sad News

Hey guys,

Remember my post not too long ago about a little orange cat who ran across my path as I tried to get to the gym?

He'd been cruelly tossed outside by someone who no longer wanted him, and I and a friend have spent the past two weeks fruitlessly trying to trap him. Sometimes he wanted to come closer to us, but other times he'd stay away. It depended on his mood, I guess, and the weather and his hunger.

He died today -- hit by a car.

I'd actually set out the cat trap we borrowed from a local shelter -- we've been doing it periodically on days when one of us was going to be around to check it every few hours. Today my friend was free, so I brought out the trap on my way to work, baited it with some fresh sardines, and crossed my fingers.

She checked it at 3pm and found our little orange guy in the street, the victim of a careless driver. Nobody stopped to help him.

I'm ridiculously maudlin about these sorts of things. But it's made me very sad.

I can say that I didn't run to a store to stuff my face, which I always used to do when confronted with a strong emotion, particularly sadness.

So now I sit here, and I'm sad, and I wish I'd done a million things differently -- starting with not letting him get away the first night I saw him. And setting the trap more often. And working harder to get him off the street.

I wish I could have helped him find a safe home. Don't worry, I'm not going overboard here and getting all crazy. I see lots of street cats here in NYC, and most of them -- when not victimized by twisted humans -- do just fine. I've got no illusions about how miserable many cats are when they are brought to shelters and stuffed into cages for the rest of their lives. That's no fun for them.

But I hate to see cats out on the streets who don't know how to safeguard themselves. They're not born to it, and some rediscover their wilder instincts too late. Those are the ones I try to pull into a safer environment, when I can.

I'm so sorry this one couldn't be saved. He was sweet and winsome, and would have blossomed if he'd gotten a home full of love.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Girl with the Curl

Right in the middle of her forehead.

Did you guys ever hear that nursery rhyme growing up?

"There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid."
---Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is how I feel about dieting.

(And it may actually be how I feel about myself, since my parents recited it to me endlessly and I did indeed have strange curls around my forehead, largely due to two unfortunately placed cowlicks that gave me the appearance of devil horns sprouting from either temple.)

When dieting is easy, it is very very easy.
And when it is hard, it is BLOODY INTOLERABLE!!!

Now, I'm going to indulge in what my British rellies (relatives) would call a good whinge (whine), but only for a brief second.

Here's my complaint: there are times when it's the easiest thing in the world to get up, do my exercise, eat right, follow my food plan, and just do all the things I know I need to do to achieve my goals. Sure, there may be a rough moment or two, but they're generally swept aside with a minimal effort.

It may be an overstatement to say that it's "easy." It's that it seems right. And it's easy to do what's right. It feels strong and powerful.

Then there are the days when nothing feels right, everything is a chore, and the only way to possibly feel even a little bit better is to eat. Because food makes me feel better (briefly).

And even though I know it's an illusion, a mirage, a trick I play upon myself, I find myself yearning for the fantasy. I wish it were always easy. I wish the days when it sucks SO MUCH and I feel so drained and exhausted and weak never came.

Emotional eating is like the big bad hero in a typical bodice-ripping romance novel. It comes to you, bare-chested and long-haired and oozing allure, and it sweeps you off your feet.

You fight, you resist. Put me down, you cad!!

But your own desires are your undoing. Emotional eating seduces you, pulls you closer, offers you that luscious kiss of oblivion.

Of course, in a romance novel, the hero has multiple redeeming qualities that surface over time, you fall truly in love, and everything is just fan-bloody-tastic.

In real life, we're left picking the crumbs off our lips, staring around at our unchanged surroundings, still needing to confront whatever it is that we're putting off doing.

I'll repeat my whine one more time, and then I'll banish it for the day and move on to the next thing: Why can't it always be like it is on the easy days? Why can't I ever -- once and for all -- learn that food is no magic elixir. It. Is. Just. Food.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Yawn, blink, blink

Trying to clear the sleep from my eyes for an early morning post before I go into work for an extra shift. It sounded like a good idea at the time....

Now I'm really regretting it. It's a gorgeous day here, perfect for a bike ride (not too many of those left) and I have to get some exercise in here somehow. Not easy, because my gym closes at 5 pm on Sundays and I didn't wake up early enough to go before reporting for duty for the sixth day in a row.

Things have been alright since my near-disaster Wednesday night, and thanks everyone for the encouraging comments.

Thursday night was a work party. I did have some wine but firmly steered clear of the buffet. Friday is usually my day off from work outs because it's a really hectic day. So no workout there.

But Saturday I needed to find time for a gym visit and I didn't. And now today I find myself in a pickle. Will have to find a way around it -- my gym has other branches in the city fairly close to me. One of them most be open later.

My calorie count for Friday and Saturday has been on the high side. That's ...ok, I guess. I mean, I plan for it. But I'm not always happy with myself after.

So I need to get right back on it today. Even if I can't go out for a long bike ride and then to the gym like I planned, I can find another way to tackle this problem. Either walk home from work, or find an open gym. Or both, I suppose!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bike Path to The Danger Zone

I came thisclose to a disaster tonight.

B/F had tooth surgery today, and called me just before 6pm to ask if I could bring him some soup on the way home.

"Soup? Soup? Sure, I can get you soup. Why not get myself soup too?" I thought.

Forget about my planned meal waiting for me waiting at home. Forget about my commitment to stick to my regular eating patterns. Here was a real chance to go off plan -- and it was almost like a reward, because I'd be doing something nice for someone else, right?

Biking up Central Park West, in the near-dark, fighting hunger, other thoughts of what I could buy at Whole Food with our soup began to creep in.

"Wine...they have those small bottles of wine. I could get a small bottle. That would only be 200 calories," I said to myself. Oh, and vegan brownies -- there's like, what, almost no calories in those brownies, right? 'Cause they're vegan, right? Or some of those turkey meatballs I love -- they don't really use that much parmesan cheese in them, do they?

Guys, I was talking myself right into a trap. Right into the mindset that kept me from losing any significant weight over the past six weeks. I'd been pretty good navigating the big challenges -- hence the no gain. But I'd lost too many small battles like this one. Hence the static scale.

Even as I pedaled furiously toward the store to get my treats, another part of me could already feel the regret building.

Now, this is going to sound really cheesy, but I'll confess the truth. Somewhere on my bike ride, I began to think of you -- as in, all you bloggers who take the time to write about your weight loss struggles.

Lori, competing in a bike/run race. Beth making it 60+days without a binge. Kari getting close to size 12 jeans. Marcelle looking like a fit and fabulous 47-yr-old grandma. South Beach Steve, getting up at 4:30am and recording motivational speeches for everyone. Was I about to let this craving for wine become the one inch cube that derailed my growing momentum? Beej, who manages to do sweet things for his wife all the time without turning it into an excuse/reason to "reward" himself. Peridot, working hard in England to move beyond a Turkish vacation and a nasty cold.

Nobody gets where they want to go in this journey without summoning the strength to utter one very important word: "No."

Sometimes it's a gentle, "No, not tonight." Other times it's a compromise, "No, not that, but try this instead."

And there are times when it just has to be a right-between-the-eyes "NO."

No I'm not breaking my commitment to stay on plan.
No I'm not breaking my vow to avoid wine on weeknights.
No I'm not going to tell myself a glass is "only" 200 calories.
No I'm not going pretend I won't overeat later; I'm always hungrier with wine.

I got in and out of Whole Foods in less than 2 minutes, eyes firmly averted from everything (I really and truly had them squeezed almost shut to avoid seeing anything but the soup table). I walked past the attached wine store and just did not allow myself through the door. It might as well have been labeled "Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here."

I biked the rest of the way home, dropped the soup off to the B/F, said a brief hello to a friend who passed on the corner, but refused to let her waylay me. I headed to my gym. Made it for the final 30 minutes of cardio I need for the day to hit my goal.

Then home to the lovely, low-calorie dinner that I had planned to eat.

This is what I have to continue to do if I want to go back to losing regularly. I have to create a firewall between me and temptation. Even the smallest battles count.

And THANK YOU everybody!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ahh..the joke was on me

At some point, I had to start laughing.

From the early morning, everything I touched broke. In my hands. Inexplicably. Or so it seemed.

Trying to download pics from my Blackberry, I said "sure" when the app asked me if I wanted to run automatic software updates. Half and hour later, it still wasn't done.

I stopped it. Time to get going -- anxious to start my bike/walk to work. Bad move.

Apparently the Blackberry system WIPES OUT your phone databases and settings when it does a software upgrade. Then it restores them after it's finished. Unless, of course, you interrupt it in mid-upload.

Which I did.

I wiped out my pics, all sorts of notes and things and my carefully stored address book.

Full panic and hysteria ensued. An hour later, finally, I had it back. I found the file on my computer that was the pre-upgrade backup. Thank the goddesses.

Then I ran out, late but determined I would stick to my usual commute routine: bike to Central Park reservoir, walk its 1.5 mile circumference, and then continue on the bike to work. As I hastily reset my almost-brand-new bike speedometer/odometer, something happened. It stopped working. Oh -- and my tires were almost flat. I had to stop and get air too.

AAAARRGHHHHH. That was the sound in my head as I sped off to work, disheveled, out of sorts and gnashing my teeth. At least my phone was fixed and I learned a valuable lesson, right?

Later, at lunch, I zipped two blocks over to a local bike store. Greeted by a sympathetic clerk, I launched into a litany of my Cato 5 Velo speedometer woes.

"Oh, this?" the nice young man said, bending to my front tire and -- with one finger, probably just the tip of a finger -- straightening a magnet I'd never noticed before.

"You just have to keep it straight so it trips the sensor," he said gently.

Oh. oh. Hee hee. Oh um, yeah. OK. I'll just slink outside now and go back to work.

Had to laugh at myself. I do get overheated about things when they don't immediately go my way. Instant gratification, thy name is Ishmael.

Now, for the fun photos I didn't get to post this morning!

In the upper right corner of this blog you'll see a yellow blob. That's a pound of fat (well, a pound of faux-fat). My nutritionist had it in her office so I took a pic. She held it up when we discussed how much I'd lost in the past six weeks (when I've been on a maintenance but not weight loss kick).

"You lost 2.6 of these," she said, dangling the blob from her hip.

"ICK," was what I thought. It was quite an image, believe me. I'll never diss a 2.6 weight-loss again. Every bit counts when fighting the yellow blob.

Now, we also have a shot of my new workout buddy. I met him/her yesterday. Almost killed him/her by getting disastrously close to his/her head with my foot.

What will he/she be come spring? What will we be? Isn't it delicious to wonder, and to know that change is afoot?

Here are a few pics of beautiful Central Park -- I can't do it justice with my cell phone, but I do love the softly patterned lights, the big trees that blot out the big buildings and push the city away. It's so full of life.

Someday soon I'll grab some pics of some of the fantastic folk who I see going through this most public of parks. There's a one-armed man who jogs every morning. Lots of moms jogging or roller-blading behind strollers. Bikers who perform in teeny tiny outfits despite dipping temps. The NYC Marathon is rapidly approaching, so every night as I come home I see great teams of joggers pounding their hearts out on the pavement long after night has fallen. They look so cool!

Damn Crackberry

Had some lovely little shots of my walk in the park yesterday en route to the nutritionist to share with you all (or y'all, if you prefer), but the damn BBerry has decided not to cooperate.

I synched it with my laptop at home this morning, preparing to download the pics I took with it, and now the darn thing won't power up correctly. It's stuck with the eternal hourglass figure going round and round and round.

Vile machine. More later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

'Tis The Season!

Just made plans for my nephew to come visit me the week before Christmas! It's going to be a blast -- I'm so excited.

Aside from the joys of getting to see him react to freezing temps and snow (he lives in the south with my brother) and teaching him things like ice-skating and snowball throwing, we'll get to experience some of New York's Christmas magic together. The city is never so beautiful as it is leading up to Xmas.

Also -- and this truly was one of my first thoughts, so it shows how much my mentality has changed in the last year -- having him come here means I get more time in control of what and when we eat, and I can stay on my workout schedule. We'll fly back home together for Christmas Eve, meaning I'll only have a couple of days to dodge the mince pies, creamy dips, and large juicy roasts my family loves to eat over the holidays. Then I'll be back in New York.

If he weren't coming here, I'd have to be down there a week earlier -- meaning more time to combat boredom (by eating) and get sucked into the lazy stuffing of the pie hole that often overtakes me in the holidays.


So, back to the here and now. I got in an excellent workout yesterday despite crappy, rainy weather.

I bundled up and was dragging myself the 1.5 blocks to my local gym when I decided to just keep walking. That's one of the boons of living not far from Central Park.

Doing the elliptical at the gym is a must for me, in terms of cardio workouts. But it's such a spiritually bland exercise. I find a walk or a bike ride in the park or through the city feeds/fuels me in a different way -- I simply feel more grounded in my life and body when I'm moving through nature as opposed to plodding in a gym.

I wonder what those who are actively engaged in a spiritual life think about the ways and means of exercise? Beej -- any thoughts? Getting in touch with one's body -- and learning to care for it -- has always struck me as a tremendously spiritual undertaking. So while I know I do have to go to the gym -- and that always leaves me feeling pumped up and great -- I will also make time for those workouts that lead to quiet self-reflection, feelings of peace and a connection to nature.

In anycase, it was a tremendously frigid and windy walk around the reservoir -- but for once I had the spot all too myself! Minus the visiting ducks, of course. I was thinking often of Lori, out that morning in even more bitter weather upstate, doing a combo bike/run race!

Then I walked back to the gym and did my 45 minutes on the elliptical. And got on the scale. A little lower than it was last week, but not back to where it was before my trip upstate on Oct. 2nd.

Sigh. So quick is the damage, so long the repair.

Shortly I will go see my nutritionist -- the person who helped me get started on this journey and who does my "official" weigh-ins. I'm feeling slightly squirmy because I have not really lost any weight for the past six weeks.

I could have -- actually I did lose pounds here and there. But for each pound lost, there was a weekend or a dinner or a party where I indulged too much and put the pound back on.

I didn't gain any weight. But I was unable to make the lost pounds stick, either.

A few days of "clean" eating and working out and the scale numbers start to go down. A day or two of indulgences -- even small ones -- and it pops right back up again.

It's disheartening to know I had a six or seven pound weight loss in my sights and let it get away.

As punishment, I must do more Tabata! I'm slowly getting the hang of this nightmare workout and it can even be kinda fun (cough, cough). It does feel fantastic when you get through the whole four minutes. I'm nowhere near as dedicated as South Beach Steve, but I'm getting there.

I'm working my way up to frog leg squats -- once my knee firms up some more.

15 pounds --- that's my goal. We'll see if I can make it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

At a Loss (for words)

This actually may be too personal to share here. But for lack of a better, more appropriate venue (ie a private therapist) I'm just going to let it all hang out.

I had the strangest conversation tonight with my mother.

A quick detail: I've always been heavy, to various degrees. My mother has always been trim. Different body types, metabolisms, and reactions to food.

I'm a thirtysomething woman who hasn't lived at home for a looooooong time, has a decent career and a very loving, appreciative long-term boyfriend.

So, on to the bizarre fiasco that was tonight's conversation with my mother.

It started with me relating how I'd just had dinner the night before with an old friend from high school and how it was a shock -- a SHOCK -- to see how much he had aged. He looked so old. I, rather vainly, was babbling about how I couldn't believe how well I looked in comparison.

My mother (speaking genuinely): "Well, you're beautiful. You've always been beautiful. That's just how you are."

Me (acknowledging privately that every parent thinks their child is perfect): "Well, thanks Mom, that's nice. I don't know about being beautiful and all that, but I am just saying that I certainly don't think I look as frazzled as [my high school friend] does."

Mom: "No, you've always been beautiful, and I'm not jealous. I'm not jealous. I never have been.

Me (confused): "Well, why would you be jealous? I look just like you (although bigger, of course).

Mom (out of the *effing* blue): And I've been doing a lot of research, and reading, and's' nothing we can control, I mean body mass, or index, it just is what it is, and society says things, but that's not what we should believe about ourselves, and it's just not something we have a choice over.

Me (rendered speechless): ?????????????????????

OK, that's the conversation to the best of my recollection. I'm befuddled. How did we get to my BMI from a very innocent and fairly vapid discussion about how I am determined to believe I am somehow immune from all signs of aging?

I realize this could be some heavy mother/daughter stuff, so sorry to lay it all all out there. I just wanted to put it in writing before the details get blurred and I forget. It may be relevant tomorrow when I wake up feeling like an 18-wheeler ran over me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The 'F' Word

Are you a failure if you don't get up when your alarm goes off?

A few years ago I would have said yes. But no longer!

Thanks to the wise counsel of fellow weight-loss bloggers (and I dunno ... maybe my slowly advancing age) I've learned not to beat myself up over what I am not willing to do. There are many, many things I am willing to do to lose weight. Getting up early to work out is not one of them.

I used to torture myself over this.

The litany would start as soon as I woke up for real, usually about an hour after my alarm had gone off -- the alarm I had dutifully set the night before with intentions of getting in an early workout at the gym.

"Damn it, you screwed up again, you're so lazy, why can't you accomplish anything, what is wrong with you, why don't you have any discipline, why can't you get yourself together," and so on and so on.

The thoughts would continue, and grow, and echo louder and louder in my head. By the end of the day, I'd be swimming in my own negativity. Needless to say, that didn't help me control my eating any either.

Something that Cindy Sadler frequently blogs about is the importance of doing what works for you in weight loss and letting go of the things you feel you "should" do.

Over the long haul, you're most likely to be consistent if you adopt patterns and habits that you are willing to sustain -- not hating and resenting.

It took me a long time to get to that point.

But finally one day I said to myself, "I don't like getting up early in the morning to work out and I'm just not going to feel bad about it anymore!"

And I don't.

But there was a conflict -- I do like getting a morning workout. I just don't want to wake up for it. So I found a way to turn my commute to work into exercise. I walk or bike the three miles to my office. And since they have a gym there, it's easy to fit in some extra treadmill time if I get there early. Plus shower and change clothes and all that fun stuff.

Sometimes I do get up in the morning and get to the gym. And I always love it when I do. But not enough to make it a habit. It's a treat when I do get there, but I don't kill myself when I don't.

Yesterday, tho, I was in a real danger zone. I set the alarm to get up early, thinking that because it would be raining in the morning, I should definitely go to the gym since there would be no walk to work.

But of course I didn't get up. And then it was kind of drizzling. Not walking weather.

I almost didn't do my morning walk. But then I read how South Beach Steve got up at 4:30am (in my office we would call that 'four-freaking-thirty') and walked IN THE RAIN.

Well, that tore it. If he'd done his work out in rain, what was stopping me? Surely not a wee bit of wet weather?

I suited up and made it in to work. I can zip through those 3.5'ish miles a lot faster these days. It felt great and I was so happy I did it.

This is one of the real tricks to weight loss, I think: It's ok to give yourself a pass on the things that you know you can't sustain, or that set you on a path to negativity. But it is not ok --- not not not! --- to give yourself a pass on everything uncomfortable or challenging. You'll never get anywhere that way.

15 pounds by the end of 2009 -- that's my next goal. It feels nice to get a number in mind. I think I've been coasting a bit these past two months. Time to get serious again!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Positive Thoughts

I made a long-overdue appointment with my nutritionist today. I'll see her next Monday.

She and I have met at least once a month since I started this journey back in Sept. 2008. We don't do much beyond go over my food diaries, talk about some of my choices, plan for challenges ahead .. you know, the usual stuff.

For a long time I outsourced my weigh-ins to this nutritionist. If I were a textile factory, she would be my China.

You see, at my heaviest, absolute most overweight ever in my life, I just couldn't bear to get on the scale and stare at the number. I knew it was going to be high -- as in, pro-football player high. So I told my nutritionist I'd get on the scale. But I wasn't going to look.

We've kept up that little dance for many many months now, and it's always served me well. I just keep focusing on the direction I want to go and let her worry about exactly where I am in the journey. She tells me if I've lost or gained and how much -- but that's it.

A few weeks ago, however, I got myself on my gym scale. That's how I know that over the past month and a half -- when I have not been meeting my nutritionist -- that I have gained and lost and gained and lost the same 5lbs.


BUT .... back in the groove. Back to the nutritionist. Back to what has worked for me before. I have another 15 to get off before the end of the year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I had coffee today with a former publicist for a major news network who was fired in a department shakeup a few years ago and then launched her own PR company.

She's a lovely woman, and this recession has hit her hard. She's gone from owning a thriving small business to a drowning one in just a matter of months. It's scary. Another young publicist I know has also been booted from his company.

As much as I hate the negativity of my particular bosses -- and the fact that they send all their bull*** downhill -- there's no question that I'm lucky to still have my job. And in a dying industry, at that.

I fear sometimes I'm on the verge of getting let go and among the other worries, I gnaw over what that would do to my weight loss efforts. I get in a lot of movement walking and/or biking the 3.5 miles to work. Tonight I walked home too. And could I even afford my gym membership without a job? The concerns grow as I contemplate it.

But, in a nice bit of synergy today, the woman I met for coffee mentioned in passing that she lost just over 70 pounds herself -- 13 years ago!

Friends, it's so wonderful to meet people who have conquered the fat and kept conquering the fat. All too often we only hear the so-called medical studies that say people who have gained weight can never really lose it -- or those who lose inevitably gain back. I hate articles that tout the latest "findings" about the impossibility of long-term weight change.

So I was incredibly happy to find this real, living human in front of me who is a major success story. And not just her -- this divorced mother of two also has daughters, and one lost 56 lbs and the other about 70 lbs a few years ago!

How did they do it, you ask? Well, I asked that. Truthfully, just like we are doing it. Good habits over bad habits. Portion control, and regular exercise.

My coffeemate said she goes to the gym just about every day like clockwork -- it's habit for her now. And she never tells herself she can't have a certain food. She just regulates how much and when she has certain foods. She eats pasta, bread, dessert, but not every day. Her daughters have adopted the same habits.

I'm going to remember her during times of trouble. If she can do it...well, as we already know, so can we.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm Speechless

Today's Denver Post has this article:
Heavy infant in Grand Junction denied health insurance.

Read the whole article here, but wow...just wow, wow, wow. Can insurance companies *really* get away with this?

I've posted the first few grafs below just to give you a taste. I wonder if I would have been denied insurance as a baby if this was common back in then? I wasn't one of those 14-pounds at birth kids, but certainly I tipped the scales on the high end.

It's one thing to demonize overweight adults -- and teens..well, don't get me started. They have their own particular hell. But children? Babies? Are you kidding me? And to have it done by an entire industry? This is getting way out of control.

DENVER POST: Alex Lange is a chubby, dimpled, healthy and happy 4-month-old.

But in the cold, calculating numbered charts of insurance companies, he is fat. That's why he is being turned down for health insurance. And that's why he is a weighty symbol of a problem in the health care reform debate.

Insurance companies can turn down people with pre-existing conditions who aren't covered in a group health care plan.

Alex's pre-existing condition — "obesity" — makes him a financial risk. Health insurance reform measures are trying to do away with such denials that come from a process called "underwriting."

By the numbers, Alex is in the 99th percentile for height and weight for babies his age. Insurers don't take babies above the 95th percentile, no matter how healthy they are otherwise.

This is the paragraph that really gets me. So...he's a healthy, hungry kid who happens to be taller and weigh more than the so-called "norm," (whatever that is) and so therefore he can be denied health insurance. HOW IS THAT LEGAL??????

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Time to Talk Tabata

Inspired by South Beach Steve and Lori at Finding Radiance, two weight-loss bloggers who somehow make exercise sound like a fun adventure, I took a stab at a new (to me) workout known as Tabata.

But first! Let's have a look at some more pictures from my recent upstate weekend, shall we?

The shots below are from an art installation known as Opus 40.

Just to give you a quick summary of the place, Opus 40 came about when American sculptor Harvey Fite bought an old, bluestone quarry in upstate NY in 1938. He ended up turning the old stone and carved-out areas into a major, sweeping sculpture. He died in his 70s, before his work was technically complete, after a fall on some of the stones. He called it Opus 40 because he thought it would take him 40 years to "finish" the work -- although he never really defined what he meant by finishing it. It's something that seemingly could go on forever.

I don't want to relate everything in my life to my weight-loss/control efforts, but I did find this work incredibly soothing. Readers of my blog will note my tendency to get anxious over my ups and downs -- I frequently want to hurry up and "finish" losing weight (even though I know management is a forever thing). I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform perfectly all the time.

Fite's work offered me a great visual lesson on the importance of consistency. Out of small steps come great things.

I imagine there were days when Harvey Fite looked out over that big, bluestone mass in his backyard and thought, "I'll never get there." Or maybe sometimes he even thought, "Where am I going with all this?" It's possible he even had a few dark moments when the words, "I can't do it -- I just can't," ran through his head.

Ahh..but he did. Slowly, shifting and building everything by hand, for decades. I hope it won't take me that long to lose all my weight, but .... as I said, this installation is a lovely reminder that great works take time.

Right, enough chatter -- here are the pics! Click on them to see blown up versions.

This is the view as you pull in and walk past the old quarry building, which Fite converted into a house for his family. If you look closely at the picture, you can see two tombstones embedded in the foreground, right as the stone path starts to go up, just under that big bush on the right. That's where Harvey and his wife Barbara are buried.

Another angle as we walked through the installation.

Here's a large view from the back. I found those pools -- the green thing in the middle -- fascinating. The green is pollen from the trees. The water underneath is dark and primordial -- and unfathomably deep, I think. I suppose that's where the quarryworkers used to dip large slabs of stone as they pulled them out of the rock formations. Fite left them intact and worked around them, it appears.

Just wandering around, taking it in from all sides.

Found my way down to the insides!

For a sense of scale, I grabbed some shots with people in them. These are regular sized people, not Lilliputians! But they look tiny in there, don't they?

Then it was on to Kaaterskill Falls for a hike. I already posted a pic of our final destination, but I'll post it again since it looks so cool!

So, going up turned out to be the easy part. The down trek was precipitous and perilous -- so easy to turn one of my dickey ankles. I picked my way veerrrryyy carefully through the rocks and jagged tree trunks. Check out the pics below and you'll see what I'm talking about:

I got down safely and burned up some of my breakfast calories doing it, so that was a good thing. Was a lovely hike -- I hope to do some more with the BF upstate before the real winter chill sets in. I'll have to arm twist him a bit, but I think I can drag him along for a few.

So....the Tabata. For those of you who don't know what it is, South Beach Steve did a neat summary here. I refer to it now as TT -- Tabata Torture.

I elected squats for my TT -- figured it would be the easiest on my dicey knee and work my..erm, problems areas: thighs, hips, et al.

Boy, did it ever. It took a few false starts with the BF to get the timing down. There is no way I could do the squats and keep time myself -- am not that mentally coordinated. We finally got into the groove and I huffed and puffed and strained my way through.

I won't put my score up yet for fear some of you will die laughing at me. But I'm working on it!

The pros to this workout are numerous:

1) it really doesn't last that long and when it's over you definitely feel like you've been sweating and burning some fat.

2) You can pick any kind of exercise you want to do, so it's portable, variable and infinitely interesting. Burnout should not be a factor.

3) You can incorporate weights and all sorts of things so you are getting some fat-burning and muscle-building movement in simultaneously.

4) I'm pretty sure this is going to increase my fitness fairly rapidly! And that would be cool.

I'm going to do my best to keep it up and do my TT at least 3 times a week. Will let you all know how it goes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Say Cheeeese!

Check out this gorgeous upstate store:

BUT... before I wax on about the joys of going upstate for a weekend, let me say I'm still dealing with the food fallout from that trip.

Tonight, back in NYC -- speed bump in the form of Havarti cheese. Me. Hunger. Bad.

While we were away at our friend's cabin this weekend the BF managed to devour a beautiful hunk of farm-fresh hard cheese with dill flecked throughout. It was divine. And he ate it all (with my help).

We got back to NYC and bought the closest replacement we could find at Whole Foods: Havarti with dill. But our friend just laughed and refused to take it, generously saying it was fine that we'd eaten the cheese she'd had upstate.

So guess who just gnawed her way through a significant chunk of the dill and Havarti? Yes, moi.

Aaaarrrggh. I was extremely hungry, having gotten home very late on my bike, and then been delayed even more by two members of my coop board. By the time I got up to make dinner it was close to 9pm. I started nibbling and couldn't stop. Actually nibbling is a very dainty word for what I did. I inhaled. I scarfed. I stuffed.

To make up for it, however, I haven't eaten any dinner. I'm full. So I'm not eating anymore tonight.

On a lighter side, here are more pics from beautiful upstate NY! Notice there's very little NY in the pics but lots of NY farm-grown goodies! (I didn't eat them, I swear.)

This is an up-close shot of the little jars in the first pic. We also sampled some apple-cranberry butter. SO DELICIOUS. Did not buy any because it would have been gone in seconds.

The pumpkins at this place (not pictured) were such a vivid orange. I wished I were five again and at home with my parents carving one up! Alas, the pumpkins only held my eye for a second.

Then I saw these tables:

Luckily for me I was able to stumble, in a dazed and nearly drugged state, out of the baking section and into the produce section. I soothed myself with these red beauties (honey crisp, South Beach Steve!)

The only drawback to buying a bunch of these apples was that I ended up eating them slathered with peanut butter back at our friend's cabin. Apples and peanut butter is a treat I recall fondly from childhood - one I forgo now because I can't stop eating peanut butter, or almond butter, or any kind of nut butter (or nuts for that matter).

Yeah..I ate so much of the Skippy peanut butter at my friend's house that -- along with the cheese -- we had to buy her a new jar. Oh boy.

Don't forget to swing back in a few days -- I'll be posting some pics over the weekend of the fabulous outdoor art installation we visited. Plus, another look at our steep but short hike up to Kaaterskill Falls. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Return

A weekend getaway in a log cabin in the Catskills -- what could be more idyllic?

I'm back in the city after a few days away, extremely stiff and sore from hiking, playing tennis and then sitting for hours in a car.

I tell you what I realized this weekend -- you can ride a bike all you want and spend hours plodding away on an elliptical machine and it will do NOTHING (no thing) to prepare your muscles for the rigors of actually hauling your weight up a mountainside!

It's a pleasant stiffness to have, I gotta say. And the workout I got from my tennis lesson -- my first in 18 months, since I hurt my knee -- is also kinda cool. Reminds me that I still have a whole new fitness level to aspire to.

The lesson was fantastic. It was the first time I have played since losing 70 lbs. I can't express how much easier it was to move, how much lighter and more powerful I felt. I ripped through those balls and was like lightning on the back court.

Ok, I exaggerate. But I had no knee pain, no aching joints, nada after my lesson. Just muscle stiffness the next day, which is to be expected.

Before we go chalking this whole weekend up as a great, unqualified success, however, let me post a few pics of the breakfast we had Sunday morning at the local diner. You'll see what I was up against.

That was the BF's breakfast. They sell these in a "short stack" of three massive pancakes. Nobody could eat all three -- not even The Hulk. We made the mistake of ordering two the first time we ate here and realized we couldn't handle even that. This time the BF just got one -- and he still couldn't get all the way through it.

I had no difficulty powering through my eggs and black beans with sweet sausage and salsa verde on top. Oh, and um..yeah, that pile of homefries you see on the plate there. Yeah. I ate it. All. It was good.

On the upside, neither of us was hungry again until 6pm that night -- and we breakfasted at 8:30am. So that was money well spent.

And we did get in a hike.
I don't know any of these people. They were just hikers on the same trail as us, headed in the same general direction.

More on my trip later. Just wanted to share a few highlights before work consumes me tomorrow. Hope you all are well!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hot 100 Challenge

I'm rushing this morning to pack for the weekend upstate, get ready for work and tidy the house for the cat-sitter.

So a very quick update on my Hot 100 Challenge: another two days in the corporate gym, thank you very much!

I'm finding my way through the gym without too much difficulty. The hardest part, honestly, is not letting my guilt at actually stepping away from my desk for an hour get to me.

Amazing that I feel sneaky and bad about actually taking my lunch hour for a change!

Not much to report except that I'll be absent for a few days. Fun things planned for the weekend away include a waterfall hike, a visit to an outdoor art installation and a tennis lesson. Can't wait for that. Hope I remember to pack the tennis sneakers.