Friday, April 30, 2010

Caught By the Cold

I did my utmost to outrun it, but that cold caught up to me this week.

It got some traction on Tuesday, as I left for work. You'll recall I was debating whether to ride or not because of the potential for rain. I had decided to go for it, and as I left my building to collect my bike, I happened upon an elderly woman who had slipped on the sidewalk and bashed her head on the pavement right in front of our door.

Of course I, like many other passersby, stopped to assist. Poor thing was scared and very confused. She had a hearing impairment too, so she couldn't hear anything we said to her. I do believe she was actually lost and suffering some form of dementia. She said she was going to the ear doctor around the corner, but when we went to check if they knew her name (she couldn't remember it), the receptionist said she'd never seen the woman before and the hearing doctor didn't have any appointments that day.

In anycase, we kept her still until the ambulance came because she was bleeding a lot from the cut on her forehead. And she was shivering on the wet pavement, so I put my scarf around her, then my jacket.

After the paramedics came they gave them back to me. I'm slightly ashamed of this, but given the possibility that she was homeless or had been wandering for days in a lost dementia haze (happens a lot here in NYC), I had a sudden attack of bedbug fear.

So I dropped the scarf and sweatshirt right at the dry cleaner on my corner, and went off without them. And I froze. All. Day. Long.

That tore it for this nasty cold, I reckon. It's the type that's kept me from the gym, but luckily I haven't been compensating with comfort eating or "nurturing" myself with high-calorie foods.

I think I'm one day away from being 95 percent recovered. If I could breathe easily, I'd go to the gym tonight. But lungs still sore, and nose still totally stuffed.

The b/f said he woke up last night and thought Darth Vader was in the bed. Hardee har har har.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Risk the Rain?

I'm a bit headachey and sore throaty today, which doesn't bode well for a healthy week, but will hopefully this will not become a full-blown cold. I'm so over colds.

Not a great weekend for me -- just really busy, filling in for my neighbor on the co-op board, not the way I wanted to spend my day off.

Didn't sleep well and so am sore and cranky and, well...just tired.

No great workouts, some bad eating. But still, there are bright spots. Saturday as I got off work without even thinking my feet pointed toward Central Park. I was walking the 3 miles home before I even realized what I was doing. I've turned into quite the pilgrim in that way.

Time to settle back down into the routine. This legal stuff now being over (one aspect at least) I need to find my groove again.

Right now can't decide whether to ride my bike. It's going to be nice tonight, but it's cloudy today. If it rains on me, I feel fairly sure I shall be sick with a cold within a day. But I do feel like I want the exercise, so I'll do it. What's a little raindrop gonna do to me, anyway?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Justice Prevails

This morning the B/F checked his mother's bank account.

Her money is back! WE WON! Whoo hooo!


Seriously guys, this was one of the most frustrating things I've ever had to tackle, and when I think of all the people who get illegally harassed by folks like this and are powerless to fight back, I get teary-eyed with anger and outrage.

If I were not a reporter, and a real stubborn cuss, we would not have prevailed. Because it was nearly impossible to untangle the documents and trace the theft (that's what I call it) back to an actual group of collection lawyers.

Here's where the rubber meets the road: What those thieves did was ILLEGAL, plain and simple. They got a court order to take her pension and her Social Security payments -- both protected from collection BY LAW. But they did it anyway, and just took their chances we wouldn't know enough or be savvy enough to fight them off. (for the record, if her debt were legit we would have honored it, but we don't even know what it was for, or if/when/how she got it -- the poor woman has Alzheimer's and can't even remember her son's name, for crying out loud.)

I did some reporter's research on them. Do you know how many cases they run a day, on average? 45,000.

Imagine that. It's a volume game -- they aggressively go after anyone whose debt falls their way, and don't bother with niceties. They make $100 a case if they get money back for their client. That's all -- but with 45,000 cases, that's $4.5 million. Imagine!

OK. Had to share. Here's a quick update on the other stuff:

Did very well (or pretty well) at my party Thursday night. Lots of nibbles, none terrible (like french fries and fried goods), some little crab bites, some shrimp, some chicken sesame skewers. I sampled those I wanted to try, but stopped when I began to feel full.

Came home later and had some cottage cheese for a late'ish dinner.

Fast facts for you all: I haven't been blogging about this but I am still doing my pushups every other day. Getting a LOT stronger. Really amazing how this one simple move can do so much good. I can bang out about two sets of 15 now, and I'm very close to a full-length "proper" push up. I still do them now on a slight incline, but it's very slight.

Off to work, more later.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Remembering Nana

Earlier this week was the anniversary of my Nana's passing. I took the day off to spend in no particular way. Just so I didn't have to be busy. I hit the gym for a good long workout, then lifted some weights. I do believe I overdid it a bit with the upper arms. Woke up later that night with lactic acid burning my chest and triceps!

I loved my Nana tremendously, and miss her something awful. Still, she herself was a merry, witty soul, and enjoyed life to the fullest whenever possible -- and she'd want me to do the same. She viewed death as (as she would say in her quaint British accent) naught but the next adventure.

After my workout, I biked to St. John the Divine Cathedral in Upper Manhattan. That's where this picture above was taken.

Within the Cathedral, I like to hang out here. I don't know if you can see it, but it's the Poets' Corner.

I drew solace in particular from Mr. Greenleaf Whittier. What a name! I bet he was a corker (another Nana word).

There are more, but it takes a long time to upload (Why blogger, why?) and I'm late already. I'll leave you with a note that I have had clean eating for two days and lots of workouts. There was a time when I would have eaten my way through my emotions about my Nana; I am pleased that this year I made room for them in my life instead of pushing them down with food.

Party tonight for London Review of Books in NYC (Nana would have liked that), and I can say I got up early and worked out at the gym, knowing I can't get in a walk or a bike ride today (would ruin my hair).

Before I left St. John the Divine I lighted a candle for Nana. Here 'tis.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Biking and Birds

Let's get to the long-promised pictures of springtime in NYC!

I was going to post them here, but it's probably bordering on cruel to subject everyone to my compulsive photo-taking and posting. So, for those who want to check out my pics (click on them to see the big version), follow this link. For those who don't, just stay right here.

More NY Times info. This week's NY Times magazine has several articles devoted to weight loss and health. Here's the one I found most interesting: Weighing the Evidence on Exercise.

I think the admission that scientists don't yet understand the effect of exercise on appetite (not to a sophisticated level, anyway) is important -- and the admission that it seems to have different effects on different people.

I've noticed myself that when I'v had a heavy week of workouts, the day I generally don't work out (Friday) I am MUCH hungrier than on the days that I do work out. Which is not to say that I don't get hungry on those days, it's just a different hunger at a different time of day.

I still maintain that weight loss/management is essentially balancing out three things: 1) how much you eat, 2) what you eat, 3) how much you work out.

A combo of 1 and 3 can help mitigate number 2 if you've been making bad choices. Number 2 can be critical if you have been lax about 1 and 3.

But if you really, really want to lose weight, then I think number 1 is THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR. The other two can amplify your results, but nothing beats controlling those portions if you want to drop the pounds.

Now could I just work on remembering that for myself this weekend, instead of getting lazy with the portion control? Hope so.

In other exciting news, I broke out the bike today! Yay! Spring/summer officially are here -- I am now a biking fiend once again.

Did a couple of circuits of the park and made a new friend. Pardon the fuzziness, I'm not a great photographer and definitely not fast enough to capture this guy as I should have. But he was lovely company while I ate my lunch.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Life in Food

No, not my life, unless you like reading about endless variations on cottage cheese and fruit.

Sam Sifton, the NY Times food critic, has posted a week of his life in food. Prepare to be gobsmacked, both by the variation and richness of his diet, and some of the weird foods.

Question I had: what the heck is this guy doing eating bread and butter at lunch/dinner? Seriously, if your job is to sample as much of as many plates as you can, and you don't want to stuff yourself to the ears, wouldn't you avoid the mundane bread basket? Perhaps it's necessary to do when you are a critic -- the bread might be bad, after all....?

Check out what this guy eats -- and does anyone else agree with me that his calorie counts are WAY under, and his exercise calories are WAY over?

He must have one of those lucky metabolisms, because if I ate like this for even a month...well, I'd be rounder than that Hindenburg invention that once crashed into the Empire State Building.

Here's a sampling of what Sifton says is a normal day for him:


5 a.m.

* 3 cups of coffee with cream (70 calories)

11:30 a.m.

* 1/2 platter duck salad: duck meat, lotus root, cucumber, cilantro, carrot (500 calories)
* 2 fried spring rolls (150 calories)

12 p.m.

* 1 serving barbecued pork and noodles (580 calories)

12:30 p.m.

* Beef-and-onion meat pie, the size of a pack of cigarettes (290 calories)
* Barbecued pork pie, same size (200 calories)
* 1/2 barbecued pork steamed bun, same size (300 calories)

3 p.m.

* Ran five miles (600 calories)

8 p.m.

* 2 fried rabbit livers on toast with pepper jelly (360 calories)
* 3 pork ribs with watermelon pickles (320 calories)
* 1 baked pork cheek, with peanuts, radishes, turnips (180 calories)
* 2 fried oysters and one piece of bacon on white bread with mayonnaise and slaw (380 calories)
* 1/2 serving roast pork and fried pork rinds (305 calories)
* 1/2 serving shrimp and andouille gumbo (100 calories)
* 1 serving red beans with pork and andouille over rice (300 calories)
* 4 beers (600 calories)

Total Calories Consumed: 4,635
Total Calories Burned Through Exercise: 600

If Sifton, who we must assume is more food-conscious and calorie-conscious that your average American, can be this deluded about the calories in/calories out in his life, is it any wonder that we as a species keep gaining weight?

More and more I think that I am going to have to chuck my desk job and become a construction worker or something. The sedentary lifestyle is a killer -- even when you try to workout as much as poss. It would be so much easier if my job was to till the fields or tote the barge or something.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Empirical Evidence

I now have proof -- solid, take-it-to-the-judge proof -- that the SOD is a lying cur.

Last night the B/F made a lovely observation about my changing size. And he's generally a bit too stingy with the weight-loss compliments for my taste (although he would say he tells me in very sweet language about any changes as he notices them, but refuses to indulge me when I incessantly ask him if _____ (insert body part here) looks smaller).

In anycase folks, here's the triumphant evidence: I am now huggable in a new and different way!

That's right, the B/F noticed last night that I feel appreciably smaller in his arms, and not just my shoulders, which somewhat trimmed down a while ago, but also -- praise the skies -- the wide and ample hips! Yowza, yowza, yowza!

Screw that damn SOD. It is such a liar.

Wanted to take a picture of my breakfast this morning but was in such a hurry I scarfed it down before I remembered to get out the camera. Hope to carry camera today for beautiful park pics. 73 degrees -- whoopee!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You Make Me Promises, Promises....

Why do I belieeeeevveee?

Anyone else remember that song? Naked Eyes, from sometime in the 1980s. In this case, nobody's made me any promises other than those I've made to myself. And I've been keeping them, although SOD is not cooperating.

Up four pounds this morning. I would get upset and feel thwarted and angry and all that jazz, but I am too tired to really react all that much, and also -- gotta tell it like it is -- it's not unexpected.

My workouts haven't been as regular or intense, due to MIL visits/planning, etc. My eating has been spot on for maybe four or three of every seven days -- and then it's been ok but not great for the rest. That's not exactly a winning ratio, is it?

After a Saturday night meal with my friend whose Grandma passed away, consisting of cheese, crackers, wine, homemade coq au vin and chocolate cake for dessert .... well, really, what would one expect the SOD to do but bounce up?

So, let's just take a deep breath, focus on the fact that I have NOT been binging in spite of great stress, I am still walking to work/home from work every chance I get, and if I am STILL, STILL, STILL, gaining and losing and gaining and losing the same 6 to 8 lbs that I was eight months ago, well (another deep breath here), that's ok too.

At least I haven't gained back a huge amount.

The SOD is a deceptive little bugger, and all week as I've walked and walked and walked my pants have loosened a little more. The body's changing, even if SOD remains, as always, an arbitrary and unforgiving Dark God.

On another note, every day as I've walked to work and passed row after row of vibrant blue flowers, and trundled underneath spraying pink cherry blossoms, I've promised myself to remember the camera so I can take pictures to share with you.

It's so beautiful! So I promise some Central Park pictures in the very near future.

And also, possibly one of my new breakfast, which I've further refined by adding spinach leaves to it. When you line up the tomatoes, spinach, egg and cheese it's dang purty, I can tell you that.

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Irish Proverb

-A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.-

I'm still waiting on the good laugh, but I did get a long sleep. I had to have a nap today and I really fell down the rabbit hole. Completely knocked out, totally unaware of time, space, everything. A rare kind of sleep. I needed it, I guess.

I'm so sad this week for my friend who lost her Grandma. Like my beloved Nana, my friend's Grandma came over from another country to give her children a chance at a better life.

We can never thank them enough for what they endured for us. It was not easy to leave everything behind for new, unknown worlds. Bless them, for they took great chances.

I worked an extra day this week to get some additional cash -- sorely needed. That meant no big workout on Sunday, and I missed it. Plus no real weekend for myself, since we got up early today to go to the B/F's mother's house. It's a drive, so we had to rent a car. He had to be at work by noon, so we had to get up early to get there early to meet with a geriatric care manager, and then get him back to NYC for work.

It's going to cost us a lot of money, but the geriatric care manager knows how to navigate all the health care systems that have us stymied. Who knew his mom was eligible for a monthly veteran's supplement because her deceased husband served in WWII? He was a little 16-year-old who lied about his age -- how he fooled recruiters I'll never know, since he was the tiniest little boy. But they took him, probably out of desperation, and he was sent to Japan to fight.

So now she is eligible, thank goodness for up to $1,500 a month in supplemental health care, and it is sorely needed.

We hope to have her settled in a facility near to us. Today for the first day I allowed myself to dream of the day when the B/F can wake up on a Sunday morning and take his mother to church. They would love it, the two of them, and it would mean so much. I hope that vision comes true.

So right now I'm in the spot where I seem to be taking care of everyone but myself.

I'm trying so hard to keep my needs in the mix. But it's not easy.

Didn't have much breakfast today, so when we got back home I made sure to eat something before I went shopping for the week. If I had not eaten, it would have been bad. I would have wanted all sorts of things.

Tonight, made dinner at home. Tempeh with purple cabbage, onions, broccoli and chopped peppers. Check out my wok! I love it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fat Breakfast

Thanks to an article posted recently by South Beach Steve, I've revamped my breakfast meal.

Steve linked to an article not too long ago that said research shows a good-sized breakfast (not huge) with a nice mix of healthy fats and some carbs could help balance your eating for the rest of the day.

I lurve me a big breakkie, so I decided to change it up a bit. Funnily enough, my calorie count is the same, more or less. Just a change in food. But oh, what a difference in how my day goes.

I went from eating a big serving of cottage cheese and blueberries -- about 450 calories worth -- to having two eggs, scrambled in water not oil (not as gross as it sounds) on a corn tortilla with slices of tomato and two slices of low-fat cheese, salt-n-pepper and one more tortilla on top. These tortillas have tons of fiber and are low-fat. Total cal count is about the same 400.

The result is amazing. I am not hungry for lunch as early anymore, and my hunger kind of arrives slowly, like a growing awareness of emptiness, instead of that sudden rush of "feed me now!" hunger I used to get at like 11:30 every morning. And I seem to feel fuller throughout the day -- my late afternoon shakes haven't come back. I wonder if it's the carb in the tortilla that's helping me out?

I still love cottage cheese, but I'm glad I switched things up for awhile.

Also trying to keep my focus on portions. Here's a handy dandy cheat sheet I've found:

* A medium potato should be the size of a computer mouse.
* An average bagel should be the size of a hockey puck.
* Three ounces of fish is the size of an eyeglass case.
* One ounce of cheese should be the size of two dominoes.
* One cup of pasta is the size of a baseball.
* 1 teaspoon of peanut butter or cream cheese is equal to a lipstick cap.
* 1 teaspoon of salad dressing is the size of a half-dollar.
* 1 ounce of chocolate is equal to a pack of dental floss.
* 1 ounce of snack food (such as pretzels) equals one large handful.

Lots of walking this week, which is just so fantastic. The other day I walked to work, home from work and then got to the gym for a quick 30 minutes. Felt great.

Also making good use of my kindle -- easier to workout and read from my Kindle than a book. Kind of helps to have that option sometimes - especially on the elliptical machine or when I'm walking and I get tired of my own thoughts (hey, it happens).

Hope everyone is well, especially Lori, who hurt her back. Catch up commenting on your blogs over the weekend, I hope.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Twice Around The Park

I've been keeping up with everyone's blogs over the past week, but have just been too knackered to comment or update my own.

Here's where we are with the MIL situation: nowhere. After weeks of intense effort, we still can't get these leeches off our backs. It's almost Shakespearean in it's tragic-comic drama.

Long story short, if we could prove that this ridiculous company did not serve her the papers alerting her to her debt correctly -- and they did not -- we could get this tossed. However, since she moved from her old address in March 2008, and the USPS only keeps address request changes for one year, we can't prove that she had her mail forwarded to her new address. And apparently that's the only way to prove that these sleazeballs didn't do their due diligence. Because if they send it to the last known address as THEY knew it, then that's alright then, legally.

The tons of mail we have with forwarding labels on them and new voter registrations we have showing her change of address are all for naught, it appears. The only that matters is that USPS paper. And since they only keep them for one year, and she moved over a year ago, well .... that's it then.

We could keep fighting, but at this point there are larger issues in play. Do we want to spend $3,000 in lawyer's fees to get back her $3,000 in stolen money? No we do not.

Do we want to waste time and energy on this when the bigger goal is to get her in a place where this can't keep happening? No we do not.

So we're struggling to be rational when all we really want to do is lash out and scream and jump and down. It's not fair! It's not fair! It's not fair! This poor woman worked hard her whole life and now when hit with dementia gets preyed upon by these bloodsuckers.

But so little in life is fair, innit?

We're pretty stressed and fairly exhausted by all the running around this has caused us. It's really tiring to try to keep track of all the documents and what we have to do next and when we have to meet with this person and that lawyer and call this post office and so on. We're wiped out. Plus taxes, and work, and oh yeah, my best friend's grandmother died two nights ago.

In the midst of all this, how am I doing? How am I handling the stress? Well, not too badly, I would say.

My craving for chocolate has only somewhat abated. I still want a big chunk of it everyday. I allow myself some. And so far I've been able to keep it under control.

Friday I had a carb urge, and ate a scone, and then later a bagel with cream cheese. Saturday it was a bagel with lox, but I only ate half the lox. It didn't taste right.

But still, those have been the worst of my forays. I'm still walking to work, hitting the gym, sticking to my routine.

On Sunday, the b/f and I went to Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx. It's huge! We had a great three-hour walk, not really that taxing, but interesting and a nice change. I really wanted to go do a hike -- that was what I was craving on Sunday. But we hadn't planned far enough in advance to get to one that day.

Maybe this weekend.