Saturday, February 16, 2008

Welcome to the land of DUH.

If you've been reading my blog, you know I weigh in daily. (If you haven't, here's the background on that.) Well, when I stepped on the scale this morning, I was surprised to see a number below 135.


I guess it's silly that I found today's number surprising. My weight has been varying slightly, up and down, like it always does. And like it always does when I'm on plan, it generally trends downwards. (No, I don't always lose, but I always lose over time. When I'm on plan, that is.) I've been up and down near 135-136 for a while, so it should be no surprise that I got below 135, right?

But it was a surprise. It was a pleasant shock to the system to see that number. I don't think it had hit me before. I'm really close to goal!

I'm going to be on maintenance soon!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Weight Watchers confession

I was supposed to go to a Weight Watchers meeting with a friend of mine tomorrow morning, and it looks like she’s bailing on me. I’m not terribly disappointed about this change in plans.

Why? Weeeelll …

I haven’t been to a Weight Watcher’s meeting since early October 2007. There. I said it.

I used to get a lot out of the meetings. People had words of wisdom and advice, everyone was supportive, you could help others and others could help you, someone would always have a new product to tell about … good stuff. It really was. It was good stuff. I have no regrets about going to the meetings. In the past, I could not have lost weight without the meetings.

If you asked me today if you should go to the meetings, I would say yes. Go.

They were the best thing ever for me … in 2003.

And they were pretty darned helpful … in 2005.

But when I went back last year, I wasn’t feeling the love. I went back twice when I started losing weight again. And I liked and respected the leader. I didn’t mind weighing in. I had faith in the program. I didn’t even mind paying … they came up with a great program, so I’ll pay for it. But … ugh! The lines! All those people! All the waiting! And this was back in October … I’m not even talking about January, when the place REALLY becomes a zoo.

I think somehow in my mental cost/benefit analysis, the costs became greater than the benefits.

It probably sounds crazy, but I feel like a bad Weight Watchers person. I feel like I should want to go to the meetings. I feel like I should encourage YOU to go to the meetings. I feel like I should keep my big fat mouth shut about the fact that I’ve stopped attending meetings. (I also feel like I drank the Kool-Aid, since I feel bad about all this.)

Know what’s even worse than the fact that I’m not going to the meetings? I don’t really miss the meetings. Especially now that I’m blogging. I feel like there is a community out here that is just as supportive, if not more supportive, than the community at the meetings.

But I was willing to give it a shot, since I had a friend who was going, too. If nothing else, I’ll be there to support my friend, right? The meeting we were going to attend tomorrow is in the next town over, in a different center than the one I used to go to. Maybe this place will be less of a zoo. Maybe it won’t just be about supporting a friend, maybe I’ll regain my love for the meetings.

But I won’t find out this week, it seems …

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Couch to 5k Week 2 is ...

... DONE!

On to week 3!

Oh, and I got some good advice from Erin at Our Wicked Weighs. She said "Don't necessarily tell yourself you know you will have to repeat a few weeks; you may be surprised at how fit you get and how quickly you are able to do it! Don't sell yourself short."

Thanks, Erin. That's good advice. No more saying "I KNOW I'll have to repeat a few weeks." Forget that. I may, but that's sure not my goal. My intention is to finish this without hurting myself, but I will absolutely stretch myself to achieve this goal. Maybe I can do it without repeating weeks. Maybe I can't, but maybe, just maybe, I CAN.

Erin also mentioned in her Couch to 5k post that she found Couch to 5k programs for 4 and 7 month intervals. The C25k thing I'm doing is a two month program, but that's not going to be a good fit for everyone. I was happy to know there are other options, so I wanted to let you know, too. There are links in Erin's post if you want to check it out.

Week 3 starts Saturday. I also need to get a strength training workout in. Ugh - the weather Saturday looks like it will be 100% rotten, with a slight chance of extra-crappy. That means I have to get over to the gym to do it. I have to try to convince husband to join me. If I can get him on board, it'll be much easier to make myself go. Wish me luck!

And Happy Valentine's Day!

Did I mention that life is short?

(I can’t even pretend that this post is fitness related. This one definitely falls into the “I'll also occasionally ramble on about other life experiences and events. There's more to life than fitness” category.)

Thanks for your support yesterday, everyone. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

What I can tell you is what contributed to my thoughts about a career change. There’s more to it than my escalating work dissatisfaction.

I recently saw links to the video sites below on someone else’s blog.* These are videos of Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch giving his last lecture. He is dying from pancreatic cancer, and his talk is "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." This guy is amazing, inspirational, and … really amazing. He talked about life lessons learned and gave advice on how to achieve career and personal goals.

Here’s the version I would recommend. It’s long. About an hour and a half long, to be specific. But watch it. Seriously, watch it. Come on, there’s a writers strike, there's nothing on TV … step away from the TV and watch this instead. It is worth every second.

Here’s a much shorter version, where he gave a mini-lecture on Oprah. It’s not as good … he’s rushed and there’s a lot of interesting stuff missing. But not as good is still damned good, so if you really only have 15 minutes then watch this one. FYI, I watched the short one then went back to watch the long one because it was so good. I’m glad I watched the longer one, and I wish I’d skipped straight to it because watching the shorter one was like reading the end of a book first.

So I watched this video.

To understand where I was mentally and emotionally when I watched it, I have to put it into context. I watched this video two weeks after my best friend’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was also a little under five months after my grandmother died of terminal cancer. My family spent nine months in 2007** caring for my grandmother, and I anticipate that my best friend and her sister will spend most of 2008 caring for her mother. It goes without saying that these are life-changing experiences. (Although apparently I felt like I had to say it anyway.)

So here I am, confronted repeatedly by life’s fragility and transience. Add to that my work dissatisfaction, and is it any wonder that the video had an impact?

Life is short. TOO short. We should live it fully, and I’m not sure I can say I’m doing that right now.

After watching the "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" lecture, I started to think about my childhood dreams. I was a creative child … I took art classes and wrote stories (unprompted – not as school assignments) and I daydreamed. I was an introvert with an active imagination, and when I grew up I wanted to be an interior designer. This was in the mid to late 70’s – long before HGTV! All of that drifted away around puberty; I think the social pressures were such that my dreamy introverted artsy way of being didn’t work with the boys and friends scene.

Fast forward through high school and college and graduate school and over a decade in the work-force. Somehow I’ve become this analytic creature! Granted, I find that my employers typically like me because I have a creative problem-solving approach, but still. There’s a big piece of who I am that I left behind a long time ago. A couple years ago my current job used to tap into that creative side occasionally, and I think it’s what kept me happy here. But the last two years have been different. Management and organizational focus has changed. Now, creativity is a thing of the past and, because of that and other crapola, I’m becoming an analytical cynical dissatisfied employee.

And I started thinking … what brings me joy? What do I like to do on my days off? And the answer is … you guessed it … putting together fun, funky, functional home d├ęcor, as well as landscaping my yard. Which leads me to think that my childhood dreams weren’t too off-target. Becoming an interior decorator or landscape architect would be a good fit for me in terms of aligning my career with things I love. And the more think about it, the more appealing those options are.

But is either one of those feasible? That’s a question I can’t answer yet.

To answer the question, I think the first step is research research research. Research, and list-making. I’m glad I’m not alone in my anal-retentive OCD list-making. My blogger family understands … ya gotta make a list. So, my next step … well, my next step is to do research and figure out my next step. Right now I have more questions than answers.

What are my options? What can I do while I’m still employed at my current job? How long would I need out of the workforce, if any? Financially, what do I need to do to prepare for the possibility of being out of the workforce for a while, and returning to the workforce at a lower income? How do the degrees I have reduce the time it’ll take to get new degrees I may need? What is the job really like? How can I use the skills I have to position myself well in the new industry?

I have work to do!

Thanks again for your support. You guys have helped me think this through. I don’t know if I’ll actually do this career change thing or not, but I have to at least check into it. It’s too important to blow off. Life it too short!

*I’m so sorry – I don’t remember who had it. It was a while back, and I just don’t remember who it was. I’d totally link to you if I remembered

** Someday I’ll talk more about 2007 – those 9 months were the worst months of my life by far. Oh, as a side note? Please don't smoke.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

No pain, no gain?

Oh my gawd, yesterday I was SO sore. It hurt to move. My muscles were very upset with me. My Monday night couch to 5k run which I followed immediately by a very difficult strength/interval training session just about did me in on Tuesday. Somehow the pain and discomfort got worse as the day went on, too. Ugh! I was staggering around the house like Frankenstein. Eventually I got into a hothothot shower and stretched, and that helped a little. Today seems mostly (although not completely) better, thank goodness.

If I feel like that every Tuesday, I really have to re-think the Monday exercise game plan. I love the idea of knocking out both the couch to 5k run and a good long strength/interval training session in one day, but man. I was hurting. The Monday night training is with my husband, friend and a trainer, and the trainer just kicked our butts this week. I’ll try this another week or two and we’ll see … the trainer thinks it’s a great idea to do the run before our session because then I’m all warmed up for her, but … damn.

I just kept telling myself that all this pain will equal a big loss and a nice toned body. Of course, I was responding to myself by saying: shut it; at this rate I’ll need a walker. Or maybe even replacement limbs. It was like I had the whole devil on one shoulder/angel on the other thing happening. Gotta love the internal dialogue.

I don’t know if it was because I was so physically exhausted, but I ended up having a bad day at work. Nothing major happened, but lots of little annoying things happened, and these were the same kind of little annoying things that have been happening a lot over the past year or two.

The little annoyances got me thinking about something I’ve contemplated more and more lately … maybe I should consider a career change. But although it is appealing, I am terrified by the idea of starting down a new career path at this age. I have a well-established career and I have a decent salary. I make a little more money than my husband, so without my job our household loses more than half our combined income. Although we’re not wealthy, right now we aren’t struggling to make ends meet, either. That wouldn’t be our situation if I stopped working at my current job; it would become a struggle if I went back to school. Plus, it would take years to re-establish myself in a new industry. It all seems so risky and scary.

But at the same time, life is short. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m going to look back at my years at my job and wonder why I didn’t get the heck out of dodge. I like some things about my job, but less and less as time passes. I’m afraid I’m limiting myself. Right now my entire work existence is about being analytical, and I feel like my creative side is being stifled. It might be hard, but maybe it would be a positive change in the long run. Life isn’t all about being comfortable, you know?

Hahaha, maybe my ability to tolerate my physical discomfort made me think about my ability to tolerate financial discomfort.

Anyway, I’m mulling it over. This is something I’m going to have to think about a while.

Have you guys ever been through he same thing?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Where am I? (Volume 3)

Happy Tuesday! It's the Healthy You Challenge stats check day.

Weeeeell ... I had a kick-ass week last week, but indulged a little on Sunday and a little on Monday (damned bagel), and now the scale is up a bit from late last week. The official numbers are a-OK, though.

Drum roll, please!

Weight loss since last Tuesday: 1.4 lbs (139.2 vs. 137.8)
Woo hoo! I'd set the goal of trying to get 1.2 lbs per week for this week and next week in order to earn a couple badges next week, and I made it! Next week I need to lose 1 lb to stay on track. Possible, but it might be challenging with the long weekend this weekend.

Weight loss since fall 2007 (most recent leg of weight loss journey): 14.6 lbs (152.4 vs. 137.8)
Wow, 0.4 lbs until my 15 lb badge.

Total weight lost (entire weight loss journey): 29.2 lbs (167 vs. 137.8)
Ooooh, 0.8 more lbs until my 30 lb badge.

Hmmm, I'd said I needed to lose 1.0 this week to earn my badges, but it looks like it is 0.8 instead. And I do math-y stuff for a living. How embarrassing.

Last week I also set out to earn my exercise badge. I'm doing the couch to 5k, and I wanted to do those three runs as my cardio workouts plus two strength training workouts. Unfortunately I only did 3 cardio + 1.3 strength workouts (since my strength workout was interrupted Saturday). Oh well. Next week! Next week I will earn the exercise badge. Same goal - three runs/cardio workouts plus two strength training workouts.

Oh, I did earn one badge this week - I had a definite non-scale victory. Ta daaaa!
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I talked about this in my post yesterday. I went in to the office (a rare event), and one person said I look thinner (yay!) and taller than I used to look, and another person mentioned I looked “about a foot taller.” Taller ... crazy eh? Grumpy Chair asked if I'm doing pilates because apparently that makes you stand straighter and feel and look taller and leaner, but I'm not doing pilates. I’m interpreting taller as thinner + well-fitting dark pants + boots with a heel. Hey, and (even sans pilates) maybe I am holding myself better. I'm feeling a lot better about how I look these days.

Maybe feeling better about how I look is a kind of non-scale victory, too. I am no supermodel, but when I look in the mirror I like what I see. I'm back in 95% of my old tops, and I can wear my old jeans now since they have stretch through my thighs, which are my trouble spot. I have shorts and pants that are still obscene, though. My fingers are crossed that a few pounds from now and a few more workouts from now, I'll be back in those, too.

Monday, February 11, 2008

You can call me the jolly green giant. Except I'm not green. Or jolly, even.

I work from home, and Friday afternoon something very terrible and yet potentially wonderful happened. My laptop went on the fritz! I get up from in front of my computer late in the afternoon, I walk away, and when I walk back the laptop won’t stay powered up, and in the few moments it is powered up I have a very very very dark screen. I fiddle with it, I mess with it, there is much rebooting … nothing.

With a non-functional laptop, I had no recourse but to go into the office this morning. HORRORS!

I suppose I should be grateful that I have an office to go in to. I work from home because I work for a department that isn’t located in our local office. When I used to go into the office, I found I could go for days without talking to anyone in the same building as me (except for the occasional “hi” in the hallway, and sometimes not even that). I did get to know 6 or 7 people, but not well and I didn’t actually work with them. When I made the point that I could work during hours I’d otherwise be commuting, folks up the ladder agreed that my working from home would be a-OK.

Anyway, I get in to the office this morning and Mr. IT man and I figure out that if we change the power supply and use an external monitor and keyboard, the computer works.* I have to take some parts and pieces home with me, but I should still be able to work from home.

The potentially wonderful part? Mr. IT is implying to my bosses that my department should buy me a new laptop (although he’s not pushing it at all since they have to pay for it). WOO HOO! I hate my laptop. I swear it was designed by someone out to break my back – the thing is so danged heavy that every time I take it on a trip I’ve lost all blood to my arm by the time I get on a plane. It’s like hauling a very small, dense dead body around with me all the time. I broke down and got a backpack, which helps evenly distribute the pain but doesn’t go very far in the “try to look professional” department.

It isn’t a done deal that I get a new laptop … many people up the ladder have to approve the request, and I’m afraid some of those people will think repairing it is a good idea. The idea of getting this one repaired makes me sad on two levels – 1.) it is heavy. Very heavy. I don’t want to have to haul this monster everywhere anymore. Did I mention it’s heavy? But also, 2.) if I have to send in my laptop to be repaired, how am I supposed to work? If the laptop is far away, how do I function? Do I have to go into the office every day and use a crappy loaner computer? Please no!

Everyone, please send lots of “approve the new laptop request” vibes out to my company.

In the meantime, if I have to travel, I have no idea how I’ll manage an external monitor, keyboard, and the docking station I need to make my computer function. Anyone know of a good Sherpa I can rent?

Oh, a side note. While I was in the office I ran into three of the people I know. One didn’t say anything about my weight, one mentioned that I looked thinner (yay!) and taller than I used to look, and the third person mentioned I looked “about a foot taller.” Odd about the two taller comments, eh? Although it is tempting to try to believe I’ve had an abnormally late-in-life growth spurt, I don’t buy it. I’m interpreting taller as thinner + well-fitting dark pants + boots with a heel. So hooray for all that! I’m good with being taller and thinner!

On a not so bright side note, I didn’t resist the bagel shop I passed on the way into the office. I used to love bagels and I haven’t had a bakery bagel in … man … I can’t think of the last time. My only hope is that my couch to 5k week 2 day 2 run tonight combined with my training session will offset it somewhat. I’m sure I’ll have to use some flexpoints, too. Grr. I hate using flexpoints on a Monday (which is day 1 of my week).

Back to my point. Please remember … think “Approve the request for a new laptop, approve the request for a new laptop, approve the request for a new laptop …”

* You fancy techie folks who might think “oh, I can totally fix that” … you guys can just shut it. I want a new computer.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Exercise, Interrupted

Yesterday I officially ran couch to 5k week 2 day 1. It went well ... I could tell it was harder than week 1 when I was running it, and today I'm a wee bit stiff. Since I was doing some walk/run alternations on the treadmill before I started the official program, I think my body was ready for week 2. On the other hand, it is safe to say that week 3 will be out of my comfort zone completely. I'm very interested to see how that goes. Interested, and fearful, and excited, actually. All at the same time. Nothing like a little emotional stew to make the exercise interesting, eh?

When I was out in my neighborhood running yesterday, I had a paranoid thought. If I keel over on the road next week, I can't call anyone. I don't carry my cell with me. Hey, runners out there: Do you guys carry your phone when you run? Where do you put it? And if I pass out cold, I have no ID with me, either. Do you carry ID? Where?


Riiiiiight. OK, shake it off, shake it off. But I am curious.

Anyway ...

After the run, I came home to do strength training. I did lunges down the street, and then came inside to do abs and arms and more legs. I have dumbbells and a balance ball and a medicine ball in a corner of our living room. I call that decorating style "Early American Losethebadonkadonkbutt." But I digress.

I was saying, after running and lunges I head inside to strength train. Fate was against me, though. I got a phone call 1/3 of the way into the strength workout, and by the time I was off the phone I was out of time for working out. Typically I don't answer the phone when I'm working out, but I had to take this call. I guess this means that I didn't officially reach my exercise goal this week. THAT STINKS! I was so psyched to be able to say I actually got all my exercise in. POOP.

Technically, I could do strength training today and meet the goal, but since tomorrow is my evening with the trainer and we'll do LOTS of strength training, I don't want to it today, too. Every other day, recovery time, blah blah blah. Bummer.

Nevertheless, I'm happy with the progress I'm making on the exercise front. The momentum and motivation are finally there. Yay for that!