Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

Christmas!  It's the week of Christmas!  Woo hoo!

We had a really great, holiday-centered weekend.  Friday, was a fun date night: we went to "Zoo Lights," where the whole zoo is decked out in Christmas cheer.  They've also set up an ice skating rink.  The original intention for our trip to the zoo was to ice skate, ie, teach my Southern husband how to skate (since he's never even worn skates before).  The whole skating scene was really crowded, though - too crowded to teach someone how to skate (especially in a situation where he didn't want to fall too much because of his already-painful shingles and/or our upcoming vacation).  It was fun to stand around the rink and watch, even if we weren't skating, though - so the night was still really fun.  (And we definitely enjoyed some hot cocoa, even though we didn't "deserve" it by skating off some calories.)

Saturday morning, Jonathan's Christmas dreams came true and we watched Die Hard 2.  I then did a seven (that is, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7) mile run on the treadmill.  And Saturday night, we attended a big dinner party (8 couples) at our friends' house.  The couple who hosted really like to have parties at their house - and, appropriately, are great at entertaining.  We had such a fun time (Jonathan so much that he didn't remember how we got home).

Sunday morning, Jonathan was feeling the effects of a blackout portion of the previous night.  I, on the other hand, felt great (since I was, in fact, the way we got home), and did a six mile run.

Sunday night, we attended the Christmas party of one of my friend's parents.  It was definitely an older crowd - but still fun to have plans on a Sunday night other than laying on the couch watching football.

Overall, it was great!  A fun collection of holiday merriment!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fitness Friday...Recap??

So Fitness Friday was originally proposed on November 12th, and it was to last up to Christmas.  If we're going by that schedule, this will be the last one.  I sort of like having a day to check in on what I'm doing with myself in terms of health/fitness, though - so there might be some more Fitness Fridays in the future.

If we're recapping from the original post, my two goals were to: 1) lose 9-10 pounds; and 2) workout most days of the week.

I did not achieve goal one.
I did achieve goal two.

Frankly I'm feeling a little confused by the whole weight loss thing.  After LB & Tippy's comments last week about how I'm potentially not eating enough calories (something also preached by Tony Horton of P90x), I did some internet research about it.  I'm feeling even more in the dark than I was before.

The LoseIt! app tells me I should eat ~1250/day to lose 2 lbs a week.  It doesn't account for exercise, other than "letting" you eat more if you work out.  One website I found said I should eat the amount of calories/day that would sustain my goal weight (which makes proper sense, I think); so I calculated that amount in the LoseIt! app and it was ~2000/day.  Mmmk. 

Then I found a website that gave me all these equations to calculate different stuff: my BMR (basal metabolic rate), and then the number of calories/day to lose weight.  This felt the most legit because I was using my current weight and my goal weight, and I was calculating how much I exercise (because I definitely have a high & intense exercise level every week).  I don't remember the exact number, but it was something like 3000 calories/day to lose weight.  Hmm.

I don't know.  I'm sure we can all argue points for any of those plans.  I'll tell you that the thought of eating 3000 calories/day freaks me out.  I don't think I could do it.

But anyway - I'm getting carried away with this one point.  To recap my week, I didn't eat awesome (ate out Wednesday for lunch & dinner; generally didn't care as much about counting calories) and I didn't exercise on Sunday (too hungover) or Wednesday (too lazy in the afternoon and then time crept away and I had book club).  So not a great week, really.  No weight lost - maybe a pound gained?  It's tough to tell what is legitimately weight gained vs. water retained following a day of bad eating.

I'm having some other general thoughts about weight loss and/or body image - but I'll probably save them for another post.

How did you guys do this week?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great Days

What a lovely couple of days I'm having!

I took a half day yesterday (trying to use all my vacation time before year end), so I got to have a long lunch with Tiffany!  I haven't seen her since she moved to the UK three years ago.  It was fun to catch up and hear about her Euro life.

Then last night my book club did a holiday book exchange.  It was so fun!  I highly suggest if you have a book club, you think about doing this as well.  Everyone brought a book that they thought was really awesome.  And then we did a dirty Santa gift exchange.  Each time a book was unwrapped, the person who brought it explained why they liked it so much.  I ended up with The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall and I can't wait to read it!  Brooke, the girl who brought it, went to the same college as me (although she's a little older & I didn't know her) and the book was suggested to her by one of my English professors, so I think it'll be legit.

And then today - glorious day - I'm using up more vacation time, so I don't have to go to the office at all!  I might do a little Christmas shopping.  I might lay around.  I might get some fancy coffee from a coffee shop.  I might read.  I might bake.  The day is all mine!  Ahhh.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Thoughts

There are a few holiday-related thoughts swimming through my mind of late - so I thought I'd share them with you guys...

1) Peppermint-Flavored Stuff. 
I can't get enough of it!  It's never been high on my list of favorite holiday tastes, but for whatever reason now, I'm addicted!  I want to eat/drink peppermint-flavored everything.

2) Greeting Cards
I had no intention to make a holiday card this year.  Since we don't have kids, it wasn't even on my radar to send out a picture of the two of us (especially since we missed the chance last year to send one from our wedding).  But when the cards started flooding in this year, I had a little remorse.  Especially because there have been a handful of CWKs (couples without kids) who have sent lovely little cards of just them.  So now I'm kind of teetering on whether to send one.  I don't think it's too late if I act fast - and/or, I have the option of sending a New Years card like my mom does every year.  But should I?  We already have all addresses from the wedding, so that wouldn't really require any work.  But I just don't know!

3) New Coat
I got a new coat last weekend!  I asked my mom for a JCrew giftcard for Christmas specifically for this purpose.  And since JCrew was doing 25% off all orders over $150, I went for it!  I got it in black because I don't have a black coat.  (And an added bonus: I think the woman rang the order up incorrectly.  I'm still sort of confused about it. But I know it cost less than I thought it would, and thus only had to pay $15 out of pocket.  Thanks mom & JCrew checkout lady, you've made my holiday merry and bright!)

4) Stockings
We didn't hang stockings by the chimney with care this year.  I know I have a stocking somewhere, but it wasn't in the plastic bins with all the other Christmas decs, so I have no clue where it could be.  One thing I've been sort of pondering, though, is making some needlepoint stockings for our family.  This is such a grandmother activity, but I actually really enjoy needlepoint.  I have two reservations, though: 1) I haven't done a project since high school - no clue if I still remember how to do it (and also, no clue if I still know what kind of needle/thread to buy); and 2) in HS, I didn't have the troubles I now have with my carpal tunnel, so I don't know if working on a cross stitch would potentially bother my wrist.

5) Love Actually
We watched Love Actually on Sunday night.  It's one of my top-five favorite Christmas movies - maybe even movies in general.  On the surface, it's a lighthearted romantic movie.  But seriously, if you really analyze the characters & their relationships (and then contrast all the different relationships in the movie against each other), there's so much substance to the whole thing.  Big fan.

6) Christmas Cookies
I haven't had any Christmas cookies this year.  Not one.  This is an accomplishment.  But it's also sort of sad.

7) Almost....
Beach time!  Cannot wait!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hung

Sunday morning, I was in a bad place.  We attended a lovely dinner party the night before at Anna/Kevin's.  In addition to a delicious spread of food, the champagne, wine, and Bailey's flowed freely the whole night.  Too freely.

The next morning, I had the stereotypical hangover: headache, extreme nausea, body aches, fever flashes - the works.

Now, if someone were to ask me what the best food is for a hangover, I'd direct them to Huey's.  It's a local burger joint where I'd promptly advise: a (veggie)burger, french fries, and a Diet Coke.  While this hasn't been scientifically proven, I'm willing to bet 9 out of 10 hangover sufferers agree that this food works wonders on the weary, post-drinking stomach. 

If the local burger joint isn't available, I'd recommend the greasy spoon breakfast place.  Upon entering, one should immediately place an order for: fried eggs, buttered toast, greasy hashbrown potatoes, and coffee.  Again - it would work wonders.

But what "hangover food" does one eat who's on a healthy-eating kick?  If you recall, my healthy-living plan only includes one day of food splurges (Saturday).  So when the hangover man came knocking at my door on Sunday morning, I didn't know what to do.  Is there a healthy alternative?

I can say with some certainty that my eggwhite scramble with spinach and black beans did not do the trick.  Did not.

Do you guys have any tried-and-true "cures" to the hangover blues?  Any thoughts on a healthy way to do it?

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Been Awhile...

Even though I grew up in the Midwest, my almost-decade in the South has definitely acclimated my body to warmer temperatures.  Memphis just doesn't get that cold.  We don't get much snow.  It's a pretty comfortable place to live in winter (relatively speaking - that is, for a place that doesn't have a warm climate all year). 

You might imagine my surprise, then, when I checked the temperature this morning and weather.com told me it was:
13 degrees
(Feels like 0)

It's been awhile since I've felt zero.  And I can say pretty confidently that even though I battled Ohio winters for the first decade of my life, zero still feels pretty awful.  (An unfortunate element of this equation, as well, is that our house isn't insulated for super cold winters, as the houses are in colder parts of the country.)  We didn't get any snow, which is sort of unfortunate because getting snow in Memphis is fun - ie, we don't have a driveway to shovel and since the city reacts poorly to snowfall, it's totally acceptable to stay home from work.

No snow, but still Brrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fitness Friday

Eating
My eating this week was awesome.  I stayed within my calorie budget every day except Saturday (when we went to that wine party).  That's how I'd like to function moving forward: 6 days within the budget, one day doing whatever.  Fun side note - did you guys know that the contestants of The Biggest Loser get one day per week to eat whatever they want?  Like, I think they can even have cheeseburgers/fries/whatever their heart desires on this day.  I read this in one of those "behind the scenes" interviews.  Apparently they do it to "trick" their system (but also probably so they stay sane).

I have to say, on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I had a really hard time with my eating.  I don't know why - but I was having mad cravings for sugar (which isn't what I normally crave).  I had a very hard time not acting on those cravings.  But I didn't - so I feel good about that.

Exercise
I worked out everyday this week but Saturday, which is great.  I was also inspired when Sarah and LB posted in the comments last week that they're going to/have been doing P90x workouts.  I think this week on Saturday, I might do a weights video, just to switch things up. 

Looking forward this week, on Monday night I have bible study and Wednesday night I have one of my book clubs.  I know I won't be able to workout before bible study (but I think I can before book club) - so I'm hoping for my day of rest to be Monday.  This is only significant because I have to workout on Saturday, which is traditionally a day of rest for me.

The Stats
Down one pound this week.  Pants are noticeably looser.  One pair that I planned to wear to church on Sunday, was so big they were falling off.  Granted, these pants have always been on the big side, but now they're laughable...and again, take what you can get.

Also, on a fun side note, Jonathan has lost 5 pounds!  Probably somewhat due to having shingles, and thus a smaller appetite.  But seriously, I think it's also because I've been cooking super healthy, we've only been eating out one night/weekend, not eating lunch out on the weekends, and not drinking a ton.  Go husband!

And Finally, Where I Try To Stay Positive...
I don't want to be negative, I really don't.  Losing one pound this week was awesome...

BUT.  Eating 1250 calories/day is hard.  It sucks, actually.  It's not that I'm hungry, because I'm not.  But with such a small calorie budget, I'm not really having any treats.  Ever.

And also, I'm just sort of confused.  Eating 1250 calories/day should put me at a calorie deficit such that I lose two pounds/week.  That's how weight loss works: you create a calorie deficit, and you lose weight.  I'm not choosing to eat 1500 instead (which would set me up to lose about 1.5 lbs/week), I'm eating 1250 measly calories.  So...WHY?

I've explored the option that maybe I'm not logging my food/exercise correctly - but I really think I am!  I measure all foods before consumption.  I count all the little things - the 2% milk in my coffee every morning, the mustard in my tuna, the spritz of olive oil in which I cook my eggs.  I give myself 100 calories for every mile clocked on the treadmill (even though in actuality, I'm probably burning more than that).  I think I'm doing it right.

So I know.  Patience.  Patience & steadfastness are key.  (But I'm feeling slightly disheartened.)

Anyway - what about you guys - how did you do this week? 

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Organics

We decided awhile ago to phase chemicals out of our lives as much as we could.  Not in an absurd, no I won't eat those cookies because they're made with bleached flour kind of way.  We just wanted to buy organic food and less intense chemical cleaning products (ie, we recognized the increased cost of doing so and were willing to allot more of the budget to these things).

As a side note, I heard a program on NPR a few months back that talked about how we all know that buying "whole" foods at the grocery store is more expensive than buying processed foods.  And buying organic whole foods is even more.  But the program pointed out that these things only seem more expensive to us now, in today's society.  Because ~50 years ago, people used larger portions of their income on food.  In the past 20 years, with the major increase in processed foods, our culture has shifted its thinking on how much food should cost each month.  So while whole foods seem more expensive to us vs. our current culture, if we looked at buying food the way our grandparents did, we probably wouldn't be as likely to choose cheap over wholesome.  Interesting, no?

Anyway.  Jonathan and I try to buy organic most of the time.  But I'm going to be honest with you.  There are some things I buy organic because I don't want the chemicals, but when it comes to taste, I can't really tell a difference.  Some people may disagree, but to me, most in-season fruits taste the same either way.  As do most veggies.  Organic onions make me cry more when I'm cutting them - maybe that counts for something?

BUT - there are some organic products that taste totally different to me.  Such that I think, in terms of taste, I'd have a really hard time going back.

Here's my top four.

1) Milk.
Milk was one of the first switches I made from conventional to organic (after Jonathan's parents relayed some key points of a conversation they had with a dairy farmer one night over dinner [random, I know]).  Organic milk tastes 100x better than normal.  And it lasts longer than non-organic milk.

2) Sour Cream
If you've never had organic sour cream, you're missing out.  And I always buy the lowfat kind (of both conventional and organic).  The lowfat organic tastes like full fat conventional, in my opinion - rich, full bodied, smooth, delicious!

3) Eggs
Again, I didn't think there would be a difference here.  But when I was last visiting my mom, I had eggs (conventional) for breakfast and seriously thought something was wrong with them - I thought they'd gone bad.  My mom tasted and said I was bonkers.  Then it dawned on me that I was used to the delicious, deep yellow, flavorful yolk of an organic, cage-free egg.

And 4) Salmon (and all meat, I guess)
I don't eat meat, so I'm not commenting from personal experience - but Jonathan does and he thinks organic is better.  I do eat fish, though.  And I can say fish, particularly salmon, is a different food than it's non-organic, farmed stepbrother.  It's rich, buttery, and smooth.

Note that cheese isn't on the list.  I'm sure it does taste better organic - but it's sort of hard to tell when you're buying a huge chunk of cheese if it's organic or not (and maybe I just kind of assume if I'm buying a nice, artisan-type cheese, they're making it from organic milk?).  Or the way that raw milk cheese is 300000x times better  - well, wouldn't the raw milk have to be organic?

Anyway - do you guys have any must-have organics that are worth the extra cost to you?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No Gleek Here

When I was in high school, I was in two choirs.  One: the normal, everyone-can-join, mixed concert choir.  And the other, for lack of a better term, "show choir."

I feel that two things should be stated before I move on.  One: choir at our school wasn't really uncool.  There were people in it from all walks of high school life - athletes, Homecoming/Prom court members, band people, cheerleaders, emo kids - a little bit of everything.  And two: in our "show choir," which I was in 10-12 grade, the first half of the year we spent preparing for our annual Madrigal Dinner.  This was a dinner & play where we were the "royal court" and the other choir kids were the servers.  Everyone dressed up (oh my gosh my madrigal dress was awesome!), and after dinner was served, we put on a play.  Following the play, all choirs sang in a concert.  I say all this because the first half of every year in show choir was dedicated to the Madrigal Dinner.  It wasn't until second semester that we did "showy" songs (and in fact, my 11-12 grade, we didn't do any dancing, we just sang jazz songs).  I don't know if that helps to make it sound less lame - but it should.

Anyway, I give you that intense preface because, given my history, I should like the show.  But, I'll go ahead and speak the truth:

I don't like Glee.

I do like the songs in Glee.  If the whole show was just the characters singing & dancing, I'd be in love.  But it's not, so...I'm not.

Instead, I hate the characters.  There are only a couple that I even find tolerable to watch, let alone be interested their success.  (Except maybe Santana, but only because she's mean to all the annoying characters.)  I can't watch the main girl sing because she has those huge lips and makes those stupid faces.  But aside from that, her character is awful.  I seriously want anyone who saw last week's episode to try to argue that she's not awful - because I think it might be impossible.  When she was dumped and sad, I found myself finally enjoying the episode.

The gay kid also especially drives me crazy (Kirk?  Kurt?).  In fact, I asked Jonathan the other night how happy he'd be if they killed him off and the new gay kid (Blaine, I think?) took his place as the token homosexual on the show.

I didn't mind the new blonde kid...until he gave that ring a couple weeks ago.  Then his ranking with me quickly plummeted.

I guess I just shouldn't watch.  But Jonathan does, so it's on our tv at some point during the week.  And awful characters or not - the kids can sing!  They're awesome - and I love the songs & dances (Brittany S. Pearce is a friggin amazing dancer).  I also like all the celebrity cameos.  But other than that, I really genuinely can't stand to watch the annoying characters interact with each other in annoying ways.

Do you guys watch?  And if so, are you not affected by how unlikeable most a lot of the characters are?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekends Rule

We had a nice little weekend.  It was super low key, as Jonathan's battling a nasty case of shingles and is in quite a bit of pain, but it was good and relaxing, none the less.

Friday night we stayed in and I made a delicious vegetable curry.  I watched my fave, What Not To Wear, and we got some of TCBY's seasonal flavors (egg nog and peppermint - holy crap, awesome).  Saturday morning, we set up chairs on the marathon route where it passed through our neighborhood (mile 16) to cheer on the runners.  We watched Patti fly by (seriously - she was making awesome time), and then our friend Jerry a little bit behind her.  It's always inspiring to see people accomplish such a huge physical feat.

Saturday night we went to a party hosted by one of Jonathan's partners at work.  I'm still somewhat confused about the logistics, but I guess the hosts are part of a wine club that somehow graduates to different levels of their "wine-lyness" (a new word!).  Their club had just qualified for a new level, I guess, and were thus allowed to have these two winemakers from California come to showcase their wines.  Logistics aside, the wine was awesome and the food was great - and the house where the party was held was huge & really nice.  It was a fun night.

Sunday afternoon I had a Junior League holiday party at the President's house.  It's so weird, because I often find that events I'm not excited about attending end up being a great time.  That was the case yesterday.  I was nervous because I didn't know if anyone from my small group would be there - and it turned out no one was, actually - but it was good to see some new faces and talk with new people.  So a nice afternoon, in the end - and a good cap to a relaxing weekend.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fitness Friday

You might have noticed I didn't post a "Fitness Friday" the day after Thanksgiving...  Not intentional as much as straight up lazy/too busy.  So to sum up the week of Thanksgiving: I ate/drank a lot, but also exercised a lot.  At Thanksgiving dinner, I loaded my plate with an enormous carb bomb (as is the case with vegetarians on the big day - stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries, etc.) but didn't take any seconds.  And I had one two small pieces of different pies (pecan & pumpkin ice cream pie).  Could have been better, certainly, but also could've been much worse.

Moving into this week, I was feeling pretty bloated/gross.  So starting Sunday, I decided to no carb for a week or two so I could bring down some bloat.  (No carbing for me is: lots of fish, lots of vegetables, nut/nut butters in moderation, a lot of beans, eggs, a small-moderate amount of lowfat dairy, and no sugar.)  It's been a really good week.

Food
I think, generally speaking, I probably shouldn't eat a lot of grain-type carbs to begin with.  They're calorically dense and for me, they're so easy to overindulge in.  So, given the lack of carbs, my eating has been awesome since Sunday.  I've continued with the calorie counting and haven't really gone over the allotted amount any day.  Yesterday night, actually, I had to eat a spoonful of peanut butter because I hadn't had enough calories.  I've felt really sated after my meals and haven't missed sugar or anything.

There was a minor incident yesterday at work when some JA brought in a red velvet cake from Fresh Market.  I mean, those cakes from Fresh Market are so good - just looking at it, it was like the little guy was screaming at me "EAAAAAAT."  So I had one bite.  One bite, as in, I put a mouthful on a fork and ate it & only it.  (Still somewhat undecided if this was a failure or a success...)

Exercise
Ok, you guys, my running has been awesome of late.  I mean, incredible.  (And yes, it's all on a treadmill: insert comment about how running on a treadmill isn't as hard as running outside - got it.)

So my m.o. in the past had always been slow speed/long distance.  It used to be that if I ran faster than ~10 min/mile my body - hips, knees, back - would start to hurt.  Well Jonathan said something the other day about how I should just try to run faster and see what happens.  So I did.  And wonderful things happened!  Namely:
1) My painful body parts aren't anymore.  I've been majorly working on stretching (and seeing some awesome advancements there as well); and my yoga teacher pointed out a potential cause of my knee pain (that I was hyperextending my joint when stretching) and I corrected it - so I think those two are huge contributors.
2) I'm able to cover so many miles in such a short amount of time.
3) I can do a whole different kind of interval work.  My favorite of the moment has been a pattern of running one 8-min mile, one 9-min mile, one 8 minute, one nine, etc.

All this great running and a super hard yoga class made this week a good one for exercise.

And so, as far as weight loss, I'm down 3 lbs.  And perhaps more shocking - on Sunday morning I measured my waist and then I measured it again today: down 1.5 inch - ha!  I think this is more a reflection of how bloated I got after Thanksgiving (since I never measured my waist at the start of Fitness Fridays) and not necessarily an indicator of how things are going.  But whatev - take what you can get.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Giving

Now that it's December, we can officially talk about Christmas and no one's even judging and/or rolling their eyes anymore ("I mean, seriously, Christmas?  Already?").  SO!  Let's talk about gift giving.

Not to brag, but I have to admit that I feel close to 0% stress about holiday giving this year.  I've planned, thought, bought some, and I'll absolutely be ready to go at holiday time.  This happened for a few reasons:

1) My mom (notoriously the hardest person to shop for in the World) wants a camera.  Done.  No more thinking about it.
2) Jonathan and I are going to buy a book for eachother, that's it.  (But it's much less boring than it sounds: he's getting a new computer and some new work clothes [stuff he needs], and I'm getting stuff I want from the rest of my family, and will hopefully also get a new computer soon.  Also we'll be at the beach, which never really has the pressure of giving/receiving a ton of presents.)
3) My dad/stepmom have implemented a new rule that if we buy stuff for my half brother & sister, we shouldn't get them stuff.  This is key because the kids are relatively easy to shop for, whereas my dad is not.
4) I've been keeping a little running list of stuff that I want.  It sounds silly that it would stress me out to ask for presents, but it does.  Like, when I don't put thought into what I want, I end up telling people silly little things they could get me ("well, pajamas would be nice"), but then I feel tons of regret because I think there are certainly things I want (and that I wouldn't buy for myself), but then I've lost my chance to get them.

On my list this year are the following:
1) A new winter coat (there are a couple at JCrew that I like).
2) Black pumps for work.
3) A cute apron from Anthropologie.
4) Ugg boots - Jonathan says I'm too old to wear these what does he know?

So instead of being crippled with stress and/or lack of funds, I feel awesome about this year!  I can't wait to give presents and I can't wait to receive them.  And we're going to be at the beach!

Are you guys feeling on top of your holiday shopping/receiving or are you approaching major stress?  (I think I might experience abnormal holiday stress, so maybe you guys don't have any and you haven't even bought anything yet...you suck.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WW Remix

My introduction to the world of calorie counting was through Weight Watchers a few years ago.  I did the online program (not the meetings), which is basically an enormous database of food that you log into your personal calorie counter for the day.  Each food is assigned a point value (to make it easier, I guess), and you're allotted a certain amount of points each day, with some extra each week for a little wiggle room.

I like the act of logging what I eat into a calorie counter (which is why I like/use the free Lose It! app on my iPhone now).  But WW was a good choice for me when I first started.  The point system is simple to use.  And the database of foods is really big.  Their website is also really informative and has tons of features on it, ie, new articles everyday about healthy living, an online community with message boards, tons of recipes, biographies on success stories, etc.  It's really great, actually.

Some drawbacks on the whole program, in my opinion:
1. Emphasis on points vs. healthy choices.  So, a banana for example, is two points.  That's a lot of points (considering I was eating about 23/day).  A 100 calorie pack of processed snack cakes is one point.  There was nothing really encouraging you to eat the banana over the snack pack.
2.  To calculate the points of something, you entered calories, total fat, and fiber.  Protein/sugar/cholesterol/sodium - nothing else mattered in the point equation.  This made something like an avocado essentially off limits, while chips were fine in moderation.
3.  It was a little expensive - but I guess this isn't a huge negative, since the program really is offering you a lot.

BUT THEN - on Monday of this week, Weight Watchers launched a new program.  A program that emphasizes healthy choices.  It uses a lot of factors to determine point values (not just the cal/fat/fiber).  People are allotted more points per day AND more points for their wiggle room.  And perhaps the most incredible thing, in my opinion: all fruit and just about every veggie has a point value of ZERO!

I mean, this is so awesome to me, it makes me want to go back to the program.  I eat a lot of fruit and veggies.  But that also leads me to this question: how can fruit have zero points?  Because there are calories in fruit - even though it's healthy - how can those calories not count in creating your daily calorie deficit?  On a given day, I'll eat usually 4-5 servings of fruit.  Using the data from Lose It!, this equals 281-371 calories per day.  Per week, that's 2597 calories.  How can those not matter?  And if they don't matter, what's stopping someone from eating 10 servings of fruit/day?

Does anyone do Weight Watchers (or know someone who does) that could answer this question for me?  Could it be something about the way our bodies process fruit/veggies?  Is there a point where fruit starts to have points (like, after eating three servings, or something)?  I'm so curious.  And does this mean I don't need to log fruit/veggie into my Lose It! app??

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Peeved: Work Edition

For the most part, my office environment is totally fine and normal.  (It might be a little more AMPED UP than other offices - but I blame the nature of our work and the abundant amount of testosterone.)

There are certain things, though, that really annoy me.  Pet peeves, if you will.  I'll vent for a second if you don't mind (although, some of these are a little on the strange side, I admit....)

1. When people back into their parking space in the parking lot.  This annoys me in all aspects of life, but particularly the work lot because it's never full!  There's never a time when so many cars are trying to leave that it's hard to get out and thus, would be advantageous to be able to pull straight out.  Never.

2.  When we're walking up to the building from the lot, and someone hits the wrong pedestrian button for the light.  This is slightly hard to explain: but basically, to get from the parking lot, we have to pass over a really busy street.  If you don't hit the pedestrian button to cross, the light is too quick (and we don't have ample time to cross).  But there are TWO buttons - one for the busy road we need to cross, but then one to cross the road into the parking lot (so if you did cross that road, you'd be walking along the busy road).  Well, if you hit the wrong button, you're just making the light for the busy road longer, making all of us arrive to work a couple minutes later than if you knew what you were doing.

3.  When that man I work with brews the coffee stronger than one bag/pot.  I know you all agree with me on this.

4.  When the men I work with comment on my food.  This happens daily, no question - but some times more than once a day.  I'll be heating my breakfast in the microwave: "So, having some eggs?"  or "Oatmeal, huh?"  Or then I'll be preparing my salad for lunch: "Wow, that looks healthy" or "Ooooh, what's on that?"  I'm serious - this happens every day.  And I know they're probably doing it just to engage in conversation that isn't stock market-related - but since it happens everyday, it drives me insane.  It gives my life a super uncomfortable Groundhog Day-type feeling.

5.  When the rather large woman who works in the department on the other side of the hall sees me with my lunch and, with way too much cheer says, "Enjoy your salad!!!!!"

6.  When the same guy from #3 sends me an email with an attachment and says, "hey, do me a favor and print this attachment out and bring it to me."  Yep.  He seriously does that.

7.  When people are too lazy to unload the dishwasher so they start a massive pile of dirty dishes in the sink.  I don't like unloading the dishwasher anymore than the next guy - but 3 minutes of my time is worth not having a sink full of filth.

8.  When the woman who cleans the kitchen comes in to a sink piled with dishes, but first watches The View and eats her breakfast at our table before she cleans.  I mean....really?

9.  When women from other floors come to our floor to "use the facilities" and then head back to the stairwell, having no other "business" to attend to on our floor.  Apparently this is an even bigger problem with the men's bathrooms - but sick, sick, sick!

And finally, 10.  When people come into my office to ask me something and hover too close to my desk/come around to my side of the desk.  There's a very clear division between my space and my guest's space (that has three possible seats), that no one needs to come anywhere near my side of the desk.

Ah.  Didn't that feel nice.  Do you guys have any pet peeves in your office environments?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday: Success

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Ours was really nice...

We spent every night of the week at Jonathan's parents house hanging out with his family (his sister & her fam came in town).  Having the three kids around (age 9, 7, & 3) is always so fun.  They're entertaining even when they're just doing their own thing - but they also really like to play with us.  So throughout the week, there was a little bit of everything: charades, fishing, puzzles, games, music, movies, microscope viewing, football watching, eating, drinking - it was all quite merry.

Thanksgiving itself was nice.  The weather was crazy (really rainy/stormy, and then went from 75 degrees to 30 in a couple hours), so we were sort of stuck inside all day.  But it was ok - we played with the kids, cooked, drank, played Clue (the adults, that is, not the kids, ahem), watched football - and then ate our delicious meal around 5:30.  The food was awesome - my mother in law has definitely mastered the art of the Thanksgiving meal.  All in all, a great day.

Friday night we went for a nice dinner with Jonathan's sister & brother in law before they left Memphis the next morning.  And then the rest of the weekend was pretty low key: watched a lot of football on Saturday, went to see The Tillman Story Saturday night and might or might not have snuck frozen yogurt into the theatre to eat while watching it (a shining moment of adulthood, for sure).

And Sunday - glorious Sunday - officially kicked off the Christmas season in my book.  (As if the first Sunday in Advent isn't enough confirmation, anyway.)  So that means Christmas music!  Christmas decorations!  Nog!  Christmas cookies!  Parties!  The most wonderful time of year!  This little beauty was erected on Sunday as well...
Did you guys have good Thanksgivings?  Did Christmas season also kick off for you following turkey day?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

T-Giving Prelude

I mentioned my love of Thanksgiving yesterday.  But today I'd like to focus on one of my favorite aspects of the holiday: the build up.

It's no secret that I love the Food Network.  But in my opinion, some of its best material comes around holiday times when it does seasonal specials like "Let's Talk Turkey" or "Dear Food Network Thanksgiving."  Even though everything has probably been taped in July, and even though the Food Network stars probably aren't as chummy as they act, I still love these shows!  Giada correcting Bobby on how to say mascarpone?  Love it.  Sunny mock sassing Guy?  Ina and Alton - class vs. science?  I eat this stuff up.

New to me this year was the month-long prep on the blogosphere by the food bloggers.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading my usual morning blogs solely dedicated to recipes relating to the big day.  I think when Thanksgiving actually becomes my cooking responsibility (if/when that ever happens), I will adore hearing about possible recipes that offer unique twists on the classics.  (And I don't even need to go here again - but can we talk about how awesome most food bloggers are with their photography?  I think it's a pre req: if you're going to have an awesome, legit food blog, you better be an awesome, legit photographer.)

Anyway, aside from food-only stuff, there's the two-week build up to Thanksgiving on the Today show.  All your needs covered for holiday prep.  You need some table-scape inspiration?  Tune in Tuesday.  Don't know which wine to serve with turkey?  Monday morning.  Curious how to make the holiday healthier?  Wondering which pie recipe is best?  Wednesday and Thursday mornings, respectively.

And all this holiday prep doesn't even begin to touch on all the lovely human interest stories that flood the news around the holiday.  Stories of people being thankful and grateful, and generally, people just being good people.  These stories are everywhere and in my opinion, they make the holiday fantastic - not just about eating and drinking.

I'll say it again: I love Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

T-Giving

I'm really excited for Thanksgiving!  I wish I could have dedicated this whole week to blogging about it.  Unfortunately, I spent most of Sunday reading a book for my book club last night (Saturday by Ian McEwan - highly recommend), and then I was super busy at work yesterday (I'm also busy today, actually...but whatev).

So in my opinion, Thanksgiving is one of the better holidays to celebrate because it doesn't really involve much stress.  (I'm sure for people who host 20+ people at their house, it's a different story - but for me, at this point in life, it's awesome.)  There are no presents to buy, no real preparation except maybe making a couple dishes of food (as I'll be doing this year to take to my in law's house).  And other than that?  You get to go to a house full of family/friends and food, and basically hang out with each other, eat, drink, and relax for most of the day.  There's the parade to be watched in the morning (love it!), football in the afternoon, and then either The Sound of Music or It's A Wonderful Life at night (there have been some programming differences the past few years).  I don't really think it gets much better than that.  (I guess it helps, too, that I actually enjoy spending time with my family & Jonathan's - so I never really dread the holidays like some people do.)

This year Jonathan's sister's family is in town from Chicago (they have three kids), and we'll do Thanksgiving dinner with the nine of us.  I'm really excited!

What are your plans?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fitness Friday

This was week one of my proposed pre-Christmas health plan.  Overall, it's been a good week.

The Good

Exercise
I feel really comfortable with my exercise.  This was a super busy week for me (Bible study Monday night, a book club Wednesday night, and a Junior League thing Thursday night), not to mention our anniversary over the weekend.  I worked out every day except the Wednesday of book club, and I really think the only reason I didn't fit in a workout was because I was hosting the club at our house (and thus had to do all the preparations that went with that).

I did long cardio on Saturday & Sunday: an hour of walking at an incline on the treadmill one day, and an hour run on the Greenline the other.  I feel proud of myself for doing those, considering we were excited and celebrating our anniversary.  And I feel especially proud of the run on the Greenline, because I probably did ~6 miles, and I did it outside (and most of my runs are on a treadmill, which is historically easier than running outside).

Food
I also feel really comfortable with my food for the week.  I'm under the assumption that in an overall week of counting calories to lose weight, one has a little wiggle room (which actually answers LB's question in the original post ["what are you going to do when you have a big bowl of sweet potatoes staring at you on Thanksgiving?"], answer: I will eat them on that one day of the week and not feel bad about it).  So I took my wiggle room on Saturday night of our anniversary when we went out to a nice dinner, had the top layer of our wedding cake (which was surprisingly awesome, by the way), and drank a lot of wine.

But I dutifully counted calories, otherwise.  I kept my after-work snacks reasonable.  And what I'm particularly proud of: I cooked us dinner on Friday night and didn't have anything to drink (since it was just us staying in for the night).  We usually eat out on both weekend nights, so this was a good option.

The Bad

Exercise
I had a tough time on Monday night.  Bible study started at 6:30, so I didn't have all that much time to do anything.  I had pre-determined I would do abs & lift weights (since cardio was out of the question), but when it actually came time to do it, I had trouble with motivation.  I didn't want to lay on the ground doing ab moves because I knew it would be painful and not fun.  I dilly-dallied more than I should have.

Food
Even though I had planned accordingly (ie, kept my calories really low all day), I ate too much the night of book club.  I think this would've been ok if that was my one splurge night of the week, but it really wasn't (Saturday was).  I should've done more tasting, and less give-me-3000-pieces-of-full-fat-cheese-please-now.

Weigh In
My weight didn't change this week.  I think under normal circumstances I would be discouraged by this.  But I'm not, really, because I can visibly see how much water I'm retaining at the moment (hello hormones), and I think that might have something to do with it.

Looking Ahead

Next week is going to be really hard.  Jonathan's sister & her fam arrive in Memphis on Tuesday.  We'll go to his parent's house every night of the week until they leave (on Saturday).  This poses exercise problems and eating temptations.  And then there's Thanksgiving.  Yikes!  I just don't want to gain weight - I think that's more reasonable than even beginning to think I will lose.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pajams

I don't usually sleep in traditional pajamas.  I have quite a few nightgowns that are pretty cute - not the kind our grandmothers used to wear - that I like to wear in summer.  But in winter, I usually end up in a long sleeved t-shirt because I get so cold. 

I hesitate to wear pajama pants because I find them a little annoying.  That is, they don't keep me all that warm and they completely bunch up above my knees, which just makes me uncomfortable and feeling like I have a ton of fabric all around me.  And since they've bunched up?  They don't keep me any warmer than if I didn't have any on to begin with.

The problem remains, though: I still get really cold.

Well, today in my daily SPAM mailings from online retailers, Victoria's Secret was offering a "Pajama Sale."  I clicked just to see what they have, and I think I might have found something that would remedy the pants-bunching-up sitch:
No need to tell me, because yes, I do realize how ugly and unflattering these pajamas would be.  BUT - I think that tapered leg might be key to warmth without fabric bunching.  And they look like they might be a little looser than sleeping in, say, leggings (which is kind of too tight for me - I like to have a little air flow).

Do you guys usually sleep in something cute?  Or are you all function, no fuss?

(Jonathan - what do you think of those, huh??  It might be hard for you to sleep with that hot temptation next to you all night.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cooking Machine

Of late, I have been a new recipe-making machine! 

There have been a few catalysts that started this culinary adventure.  One, I felt like we were getting in a slight dinner rut.  It wasn't bad, per se, but there were quite a few weeks back to back when we would have a piece of fish with roasted vegetables a couple nights a week.  Definitely healthy, but not outside my cooking comfort zone, and not particularly interesting on our palate.  We're still having this now, but instead either the preparation of the fish or the vegetable is done in a new, exciting way. 

Two, I added a ton of food blogs to my daily blog reading (as you can see in my blogroll to the right).  I don't know if you guys ever click on those, but hello inspiration in the kitchen!  They not only give you recipes to try, but they give you feedback about them and more detailed instructions than in a cookbook.  And can we just mention the fact that many, many food bloggers are also awesome photographers?  The quality of some of their pictures suggests that they're using really nice equipment in a effort to make food look beautiful.  I'm on board with that. 

And finally three, I'm still trying recipes from that lovely Sunday a few weeks ago when I sat down with a cookbook and noted all the stuff I wanted to try.  This was awesome, and I really can't recommend it enough (especially if you're like me and own 3000 cookbooks that often remain unopened).  I'd actually like to set a goal to go through all my cookbooks page-by-page like this at some point.  And the key is to really read the recipes and determine which ones you will actually make (ie, not just something that looks awesome).  For me, this has a lot to do with the ingredients - that is, if there are so, so many that aren't a part of my kitchen already or can't be bought in a size appropriate for the recipe, I probably won't make it.

The cookbook I sat down with that Sunday was Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.  Katie initially turned me on to Moosewood when she bought me a different cookbook of theirs - and then Jonathan went on to buy me this one.  It's a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca and almost all of the recipes I've made from them have been awesome.  A lot of them have a sort of Indian-y flair - so if you're into Indian food, this is especially great.

I'm wondering now how all the new recipes will play into my overall cooking scheme.  I really like to try new things - but some of these have been so good, we'd want to eat them again.  We'll have to wait & see.  But I think as long as I'm all fired up about making new things, I'll keep going with that vibe (and then when we fall into a rut again - because it's bound to happen - we'll have some new things in the rut).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reflections on the Dreaded First Year

Everyone says it.  Seriously, everyone.  "The first year of marriage is really hard."  People who are married say it, people who have been married say it, and even people who aren't married say it (only then it's "I hear the first year of marriage...").

Well, I've been married one year now.  So I have some input on the whole thing.

Reflections on a first year of marriage...

(And I feel like I might first need a little disclosure about this: when you first move in with someone, it's hard.  I did this about five months before we got married, though, so it didn't affect our first year.  But yeah - moving in together is an adjustment.  [And rightfully so, I'd say, which might contribute to the "dreaded first year."]  But that didn't weigh in for us - so that won't be considered in my overall assessment.)

So, we got married in November.  I highly recommend this.  (Aside from the fact that I was eating healthy all through Fall and thus didn't enjoy many Fall food treats last year, but whatev.)  We got back from our 10-day honeymoon on Thanksgiving.  So basically, after our awesome wedding, and our awesome honeymoon, we came home to the awesome holiday season.  It was the most perfect transition (because I hear that some women go into a sort of post-wedding sadness since they're no longer looking forward to something that requires a lot of their time).  All through the holiday season we were happy and giddy about our wedding, each other, and all the merriment of the holidays.  Everyone was congratulating us whenever they saw us, we were still getting presents, we were eating and drinking a ton (since we'd been off alcohol and carbs for 90 days) - it was an awesome time - the "honeymoon period," I'd say.

And then there was the rest of the year.  And it was fine.  It was a normal year.  We went to work.  We did our normal nighttime routine.  We did stuff on the weekends.  Our schedules didn't change that much from where they'd been the 3 years we'd been together.  But I wonder if a contributing factor to first-year troubles for some people is a major change in routine.  So, maybe before you get married, you go out every night, stay out until 3am every weekend night, generally live pretty carefree.  But then you get married and feel like you maybe need to settle down a little more.  Well, that might cause some trouble.  Or if one of the spouses changes jobs, that might cause some adjustment.  Or if you move to a new house/neighborhood/city, that might call for some tough times.  Or if you didn't do a lot of stuff before with other couples, so you then have to try to merge social lives that used to be exclusively guy time and girl time, that might make a tough first year.

But we didn't have any of that going on.  It was a "normal" year for us.  So we had some really good experiences/moments (fun trips, a few weddings, good food/wine, fun concerts, etc.).  And then we went through some hard experiences (putting BenCat to sleep, family illnesses, family situations that changed, etc.).  There were peaks and there were valleys.  And this is sort of my interpretation of what I imagine marriage will be like forever: I think there will always be peaks and valleys.  Because that's how life goes.

So were there times in this past year when marriage was hard?  Yes - very much so.  It was never hard in a regret sort of way - it was just hard: we fought, we weren't nice to each other, we were selfish.  But then there were times that were awesome - we didn't fight in situations when we easily could have, we were nice & supportive of each other, we were selfless - and it was idyllic and enviable, like everyone wants their marriage to be.

I guess as we grow old together, we'll understand each other more, which might make the valleys of marriage less frequent.  But I truly think that they'll always be there, if not just because hard/sad/awful things happen in life and you have to deal with them.  Or if not just because of the volatility of one's emotions - that quite possibly at one time or another in life, you'll feel like a failure or depressed and that will affect your relationship with everyone, your spouse included.

I do agree with the statement that "marriage is hard work."  It's permanent.  So in a relationship that isn't committed in marriage, there's always the possibility that you could break up.  But a marriage is forever.  I think this can cause you to get lazy at times - that is, you know that you should do this one thing that your spouse wants/needs for fulfillment in the marriage, but since there's no risk of breaking up, you can slack about doing it at times.  In theory, husband and wife are constantly striving to be the best spouse they can be, but in actuality, it doesn't happen every. single. time. 

So, in conclusion, our first year of marriage was hard.  It was also easy.  I'm glad we're over the hump - for some reason it feels more legit to be married more than a year.

I need to work harder at it.  Jonathan does too.  But overall, I think we're doing alright.  I'm excited for many more years, and for all the things that will happen in our life together.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Year Ago Today...

One year ago today, I woke up at 6am and cleaned my entire house - vacuumed, scrubbed, dusted - the works.  I guess that wouldn't have been 100% bizarre for a Saturday morning if I wasn't going to slip into this a little later:
Photo Source: See Note Below
(Cleaning is one of the ways I deal with stress/nerves - whatev.)

So, today is November 14, 2010: exactly one year after I walked down the aisle and said "I do" with this guy.
Photo Source: See Note Below

Our wedding day was awesome - the "best day of my life," to use the cliche.  The whole weekend, actually, was awesome/loving/humbling/etc.  We were surrounded by family and friends (all 275 of them) who were so happy for us and excited to be there - we felt so much support/energy from the group of people - it was awesome.

The wedding day itself was a busy one for me (the morning clean, followed by a lovely day-of-the-wedding brunch hosted by friends of Jonathan's parents, hair & makeup done, hours of pictures, ceremony, reception, and then HUGE recap of everything once we got to our hotel that night).  I think, in total, I was awake for almost 24 hours.  But overall, they were the best hours I could of wanted.  It's weird thinking back to it now - like, even a year after, I still remember how giddy I was about the whole thing.  If we could've bottled that happiness, I think we'd still be taking draws from it a year later.

Photo Source: See Note Below

I don't think I really would've changed anything about the wedding in retrospect (except I would've drank CAFFEINE at the reception).  The ceremony was perfect - worshipful and personal (our pastor even mentioned our pets in his sermon).  The reception venue was so cool (I don't have pics, but it was a beautiful old southern mansion that is now a children's museum - The Pink Palace).  The band rocked hard (and might or might not have inspired Katie, Lb, and me to sing BoRap with them on stage).  I remember going friggin insane being a little frustrated with the florist because I couldn't reach him the week before the wedding to confirm.  But in the end, the flowers were awesome, so I don't think I would've wanted to use someone else.

Photo Source: See Note Below

It should also be said that our photographer was fantastic!  Sara Beth Raab at Southern Design Studio knows what she's doing.  (Actually, if you go to her website, click "weddings," and then click "sample weddings," we're the one on the right.)  She was able to use our beautiful church to its full potential to get shots like this:

Photo Source: See Note Below

There were also some small, random aspects of the whole thing that I loved.  I loved the hotel we stayed that night (The Madison) and how we had breakfast in bed the next morning.  I loved that the caterer packed us food to take back to the hotel, so we could eat while we recapped the whole weekend.  I loved that when we got to the reception venue, we had a little private dinner upstairs before we went down to where the guests were.  I loved that when we first saw each other in our wedding clothes (since we did pictures before the ceremony), we met in the little chapel that's on the other end of our church from the sanctuary.  I loved that we used the cake topper that was on my grandmother/grandfather's wedding cake, and roughly designed our cake after theirs.

Photo Source: One of my friends of Facebook - thanks, friend.

Overall it was perfect, as any wedding should be.
Photo Source: See Note Below

Note about photos: All of these pictures (except the cake-cutting one) were taken by our photographer, Southern Design Studio.  I would've included more, but I was limited to the JPEGs I could pull off Facebook & the photog's blog (because I didn't feel like digging through the DVD that has the thousands of pics she took that day).  I promise that my husband was in many many more of the pictures.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Anyone up for a Challenge??

Today is Friday, November 12.  In approximately two weeks (holy crap where did the time go??), it will be Thanksgiving.  In approximately six weeks, it will be Christmas!

Let's stop and take that in for a second.  Christmas?  In six weeks?  Thanksgiving in two?  It was seriously 80 degrees in Memphis yesterday.

But anyway, I digress.

So, as we all know, the "holiday season" is notoriously one of the unhealthiest times of year.  You've got your work Christmas parties, holiday happy hours, holiday parties for different clubs/activities, friends' Christmas parties; and then also, holiday cookie recipes are begging to be baked (or your workmates' holiday cookie recipes that they bring in to share with you), the friggin egg nog carton screams your name every time you're at the grocery store, "Let's Talk Turkey" and "Season's Eating" are on the Food Network, and the candy canes and toffees you can only get this time of year and so good.  It's basically a calorie nightmare.

SO...I propose a challenge!

(Well, maybe not a challenge, per se.)

But I propose that if you have any lingering weight loss goal (maybe one you've been waiting for the new year to start), you do it now.  And you keep up with it through the holidays.  (Also, maybe the goal isn't weight loss-oriented - maybe you want to be able to lift X amount of weight, or run for X amount of time/miles, or wear X size, or exercise X days per week, something like that.)  And then every Friday I'm going to blog post about my own goals and progress - and if you're interested, you can comment about yours - and then we'll be accountable to each other!  Isn't that a fun little way to make a goal & stick with it (by having to report back to someone else)?

I should say that even if no one wants to play along, I'm still going to post about my own challenge on Fridays - so then I have to actually own up to my progress or lack thereof.

My Personal Challenge:
1) Lose 9-10 pounds by Christmas (this is losing 1.5-2 lbs/week - a doctor-accepted amount of weight loss - with about a week worth of wiggle room)
2) Exercise most days of the week (something I normally do - but that always seems to fall to the wayside during the holidays)

How I Will Achieve This:
1) Eat healthy, real food and track my calories in the LoseIt! app
2) Drink less than I normally do during the holidays
3) Wake up early to work out if I know I won't be able to do it after work; or lift weights on a day when I otherwise wouldn't work out (because I don't have time to do cardio & then shower [this would be days when there's a 6-7pm event])

As a point of reference, if I lose 9-10 pounds, I will weigh 3-4 pounds less than I did on my wedding day (but will be 3000x less toned [since we were just coming off P90x], so I think it will be about equal).

My family travels every year at Christmas, and this year we'll spend a week in Aruba.  Ideally I'd like to wear my awesome honeymoon bikinis on the beach instead of the tankinis I bought for our recent Mexico trip because my honeymoon suits didn't fit so I would be less exposed.

That's my plan - is anyone else on board??  Do you need the accountability over the holidays like I do?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-E!

Organization is kind of my thing.  I like stuff to be in order.  Our house is usually pretty neat because if it isn't, I get this weird anxiousness - like, I can't relax and lay on the couch if the family room is messy.  (Side note, I'm loving the time change because my body is naturally waking up a little earlier - so that allows me to get up, make the bed, straighten the family room & kitchen all BEFORE I have to get ready for work.  Coming home to a neat house is priceless for me.)

But aside from neatness, I also like things to be in order.  I like things to have a "home," if you will, such that everything can always be put away.  Aside from keeping the house clean, this helps me maintain a nice filing system for important documents.  I like to have up-to-date calendars so I can keep up with the various meetings & clubs I have each month; and so I can grocery shop and cook our dinners every night.  I maintain a reasonably healthy lifestyle because I track my exercise and food in an iPhone app.  I like things to be in order.

So one of the things I've been thinking about lately is my blog and how there isn't all that much order to it.  Sometimes I struggle with what to write (as many, many bloggers do, I have no doubt).  And while I don't feel pressure to get posts up, per se, the original intent of the blog was to get myself back into 5-day-a-week writing, so when I don't do that, I'm sort of not living up to a goal I have set for myself.  I'm not neurotic about it - please don't get that impression.  But I can affirmatively say that the initial goal of this blog remains: to write 5 days a week.

SO - putting two & two together - if I can apply some of the organization and orderly-ness of my normal life to blogging, I think it will help me achieve my initial purpose of writing almost everyday.

I think, then, that I'm going to try having "topics" that apply to a certain day of the week (ex: maybe every Monday is "food," every Tuesday is "the news," etc.).  And they could certainly be loose versions of the topic if I want (so, on a "food" day, I could maybe write about a Thanksgiving dinner that affected me as a kid), but regardless, there is some sort of unity to the whole blog.

I absolutely want these daily topics, then, to be important to me and relevant to my life.  I want the goal of writing 5 days a week to be fun (which might inspire me to actually sit down and write my novel one of these days).  Some possible contenders right now are: food, cooking, health, exercise, the news, marriage, books, getting older, etc.  I know that some of these things might be boring to some people - but they're important to me and would make me interested in logging on everyday and writing about them.  So we'll see...

Oh, and another thing mu ahahahaha, I'm probably done talking about said topics - as in, I think I'm just going to start employing this method of blogging.  So: be advised that you're probably going to see a blog that has lots of posts about the things that are most important and relevant to my life right now (which you already have - but just know there's probably a little more organization than meets the eye, because, you know, organization is kind of my thing.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Would You Do? (Part II)

I don't know what kind of person this makes me - or if it even makes me a certain kind of person at all - but when I found the ring taped to the bottom of my shelf, it 100% never crossed my mind to try to find the original owner.  In fact, when I re-told the story to a co-worker a couple days later, and she said, "well, do you have any contact info about previous owners so you can try and return it?" I was surprised I hadn't even thought of that.

But logically, the whole thing didn't really make sense.  Obviously taping a ring in a jewelry bag to the bottom of a shelf - and then forgetting about it - is something the old woman (original owner) would be more likely to do than any of the other inhabitants of the house.  BUT, I had always sort of thought the addition had been put on by the owners of the house before me, NOT by the original owners.  Also, no one had ever contacted me to ask about it.  I'd imagine if it were one of the younger previous inhabitants of the house, they would contact me, explain their crazy story about how they'd left it there, and I absolutely would have given it back.  But no one had.

So in the end, we made no effort to return it to anyone.  We knew the first owners of the house were no longer alive - and on hand, we didn't have any contact information for their potential beneficiaries.  (I'm sure with Memphis being as small as it is, we could've found someone - but still, it seems like a weird call to make: "hi, I have a ring set that could've potentially belonged to your grandmother" [but then there's still the mystery of the timing of the addition, which I'm pretty sure was not put on by the original owners.])

So the ring remains ours.  And actually, my mom had it re-set for herself in a new ring that incorporates the diamonds from her & my step dad's old wedding bands.

***

And then there's the story from the news - the man who found the backpack of money and jewelry.  That man, Mr. Good Samaritan, went through quite some effort and was able to find the rightful owner who had accidentally set the bag down.  (And she went on to give him $1000 for his helpfulness.)

I'm not sure how I, personally, would've handled that, though.  The previous experience with the ring might suggest I'd keep the backpack for myself. 

But actually, first and foremost, I don't think I wouldn't have picked it up to begin with.  No way, actually (because that bag could've contained a severed head or something terrible and I would've been too scared).  But, for the sake of argument, if I had, I'm not sure I would've kept it.  ONLY because the conspiracy theorist in me would be worried: 1) it was a trap; or 2) it was linked to criminal or terrorist activity that would then get me too involved and/or accused and arrested.  Sadly, I think these two potential scenarios would drive me to turn in the bag more than altruism.  Is that awful?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Would You Do? (Part I)

A couple days ago, a man was on his way to a restaurant when he saw an abandoned backpack at the edge of the woods by his house.  Noting the annoyance he feels since he often misplaces his own wallet, he picked up the backpack, hoping to find some identifying information that would help him return it.  Instead of identifying information, it was filled with jewelry and $5000 in cash.

What would you do?

****

Many of you have probably heard this story, but I've actually had an experience somewhat similar to this...

In the process of packing my house so I could move into Jonathan's, I was cleaning out my bathroom.  My bathroom at the old house was this tiny little space that could really only comfortably hold one person at a time.  In fact, it was so small that the drawer and cabinet closest to the wall couldn't ever open 100% because they ran into the toilet.  Because of that (and because it was really hard to get down to the cabinet [since you'd have to lean on the toilet]), I only used it for storing stuff that I didn't need on a daily basis.  The cabinet was divided in two by a horizontal shelf - so stuff that was in the bottom half was nearly impossible to access.

Well, when I was cleaning the bottom portion of the cabinet out, I hoisted myself on the toilet and shoved my arm in there to pull everything out.  In the process of doing so, the top of my wrist brushed against something that was hanging down from the underside of the shelf.  I felt around with my fingers (because it would've been really difficult to lay down on the floor to look), and realized something had been taped to the bottom of the shelf.

With some prodding, I pulled down a little cloth jewelry bag with about 20 pieces of tape attached to it.  I opened it and found an enormous diamond engagement ring with a matching platinum wedding band.  Nothing else.

What would you do?

I'll post my thoughts (and follow up to the story tomorrow).  But really, in both of these situations, what would you do?

Some info about my house, too: it was built in the 40s; the original owners lived in it for most of their lives (I think when they were really old they either moved to a nursing home or in with relatives); the second owner was a dad who bought the house for his daughter when she was in optometry school - she lived in it with a friend who was also in school; when the girls moved out, the house was rented to a displaced Hurricane Katrina family - parents probably in their late 30s with two kids ~ age 10; we were the third owners.  And my bathroom in the house was an addition - I don't know if the original owners built it or the second owners.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One of the Best...

I'd willingly argue with anyone that the Sunday in November when we "Fall Back" is one of the best days of the year.  Now, I'm no fan of the implications of the day (dark at 5pm - no thanks), but that one day in November, when we basically have a 25 hour day, is awesome!

On my 25-hour day this year, I arose around 7:30, feeling 100% rested.  Since my mom was in town for the weekend, we had predetermined that we wouldn't go to church.  Instead, we went downtown to meet her at the hotel for breakfast/coffee before she headed out.

I then went out to Target and Whole Foods for a luxurious 2 hours of calm, pre-crowd shopping.  After we put all the groceries away at home, Jonathan and I headed out to the Greenline for a lovely hour of walking.  The weather was gorgeous and the trees were changing colors.

We also did three loads of laundry.  I cooked a new recipe (vegetable curry) for dinner.  We watched football.  I read a book.  It was a lovely, long Sunday.

In other news - happy belated birthday to Katie!

And....I finally got a Fall wreath for our front door.  It's not the prettiest wreath I've ever seen (not at all, actually), but it was only $15 at the Pottery Barn Outlet.  And my thoughts are that I could definitely buy some things to hot glue to it which might make it cooler.
And up close:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

McDon't

Sick.

Did you guys see the video clip that was flying around the internet yesterday?  If not, I'll paraphrase (but I won't embed the clip in my blog because I don't know how to do that I just don't feel like it, ok?).

Ahem.

So anyway, this guy bought all these sandwiches from McDonald's (quarter pounder, normal cheeseburger, filet-o-fish, a chicken one, etc.) and a cheeseburger from the local "burger joint down the street."  Then he also got fries from McD's and fries from the local place.

He put each item in it's own glass container and put a lid on them.  Then he waited and observed.

The first thing to get pretty nasty was the fries from the local restaurant.  After about a week, they were completely covered in black mold.  Similarly, the burger from the local place began to mold after about a week.  (The McD's items pretty much stayed in tact that first week.)

As the weeks went on, everything started to get really nasty, though.  The fries from the local place needed to be thrown away because they were so overgrown.  All the sandwiches were really moldy, really gross, sort of goopy...

EXCEPT the McDonald's fries.  In fact, after 7 weeks, the fries looked like they'd been purchased the day before - no mold, no withering, no liquids oozing out - nothing.

That doesn't really bode well for what happens when they're actually digested by your body.  I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I'll ever put another one of those in my mouth (not that I've really had anything from McDonald's in about 5 years - but still).  Sick.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We Re-Uned

It's hard to pinpoint exactly how I'd like to sum up the reunion weekend in a blog post... 

It was great.  That could probably be the end of the post.  But since "concise" isn't a word I'd necessarily use to describe my writing, I'll go with some bullets.

1) Katie & LB stayed at our house and it was awesome; somewhat reminiscent of our pre-marriage days of living together - maybe even better?  (Since, you know, you live with people and there are the occasional dramatic moments or arguments about who's going to clean the bathroom, etc.)  But we all needed a little mini reunion this past weekend, so it was good times all around.

2) I was the chairman of our reunion committee, and from that viewpoint, everything went awesomely well.  The weather agreed (even though it was chilly); we had a really big turn-out on Saturday night; Halliburton Terrace turned out exceptionally well (dare I say even better than The Bar Which Shall Remain Unnamed, had we been there?); the Friday event was fine and at least had more than 10 people (which was one of my fears); and overall, people in our class seemed to be having a good time.  Success!

3) We stayed out really late both nights.  It reminded me that: a) I'm not as young as I used to be; but b) I'm still not that old yet.  Something about that realization feels right.

4) We went to Beale Street on Saturday night after the event on campus.  I smuggled beers through the security entrance, tucking one of said beers into my leggings.  I guess I'm definitely not that old yet.

5) We ate and drank so much!  I'm still bloated and my scale is still registering 5 pounds heavier than it did Friday morning.  Awesome.

6) Brad - I wish I could've held your arm muscles a little longer than you let me on Sunday afternoon.

Like I said, an overall success!  And now 5 years to rest until the next one....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Go Vote - Do It!

This blog is directed to me and you, reader friends (since I stupidly forgot to early vote [when the weather was gorgeous and I could've used a nice little walk outside & away from the office for a second]).  And of course, it's friggin pouring today and thundering and cold But whatev... 

Get out there and vote!

If anything, give yourself the privilege of complaining about how you think politics are going right now (because sorry, if you don't vote, I don't really think you can complain).

This could be a pretty impactful election day - I'm interested to see how everything turns out.  I'm also incredibly anxious for political commercials to end and for all the news coverage to die down.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Awesome Streets

Yesterday afternoon (after epic Rhodes reunion weekend [more to come on that later]), my body desperately needed to get off the couch and out the door in running shoes.  And while it was nowhere near a "run" (or even "speed walk," if we're being honest), the weather was awesome and it felt good to move a little.

An added bonus was that tons of people were outside preparing for Halloween.  The atmosphere on certain blocks of our neighborhood was awesome: neighbors outside helping neighbors set up their spooky fog machines; kids already in costume running yard to yard playing; parents drinking some brew and chatting with each other in the street.

It was magnetic in a way - and it made me excited to one day live on a block that has awesome people.  Now, I should say, my street is adorable.  It's a quaint little lane with about 20 cute houses.  And everyone who lives on it is nice, for sure.  But it's not a super neighborly atmosphere, mainly because of the types of people.  There are about 5 middle aged, single women who live alone; 4 original residents of the street (one is a 95 year old woman); a few rental properties; a couple houses that aren't tended to all that well; and then a couple other young couples who just don't really have anything in common with us.  So, as strange as it may sound, we don't have any "friends" on the street; but actually, on an even deeper level, we don't even have anyone on the street who we keep up with, as in, "oh, hey Mike, how's your job in pharmaceutical sales?"  Or, "how's the new puppy Bingo?"  "Did your sister have her baby yet?"  We don't really know anything about the people who live around us except maybe what their jobs are (of the ones we met at a neighborhood gathering we had once).

So while our house is great and I love it, and our neighborhood overall is great, I'm excited to one day be on a better street - and a street with other young families who will hopefully be around the whole time their kids grow up.  In fact, I think I'd rather have a house I'm not 100% drooling over to be able to be on an awesome street with lots of kids.

What about you guys?  Are you in the same phase of life as your neighbors?  And are you friends?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ugh....

It's silly that I'm even saying this - but - I'm fed up with the weather!

Our Fall has been gorgeous this year.  Absolutely.  Temps have been in the high 70s/low 80s, and it hasn't rained in a month+ (aside from yesterday and this past Sunday).

So I know.  I shouldn't even say it.  But....I want a Fall!  I want chilly temperatures!  I want to turn the heat on in our house, wear boots, drink warm cocoa, and eat soup.  And I know - be careful what you wish for...  But I think I know what I'm wishing for!  It felt tropical outside yesterday morning - hot and humid and gross.

I'm wishing for a real Fall.

I should also say I'm fed up with weather.com.  What an awful website!  And while I generally check the National Weather Service for my legit weather updates, weather.com has an iPhone app.  So when I'm laying in bed in the morning wondering what the temp is outside, it's waaaaay easier to just click on an app than browse the (always slow) NOAA website.  But weather.com just can't get it right.  They really can't!  Yesterday, for example, it was chilly (like, low 60s) and weather.com had it listed as "feels like 74" for hours.

Apparently the high today is 81.  Awesome.  But maybe - just maybe - after today we'll start to really feel Fall (temps are predicted to drop tonight). 

Because really, should anything stand in the way of a woman and her boots?  Didn't think so.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What a Snooze

Any blog readers I have from early on might remember a sad little diatribe I wrote on my inability to sleep like I could when I was younger.

Well, I'm here 9 months later to report that my sleeping has dramatically improved!  I still don't ever sleep through a whole night, but the quality of sleep I do get is much better.  Even though I wake up, I usually fall right back asleep.

I can think of a few things that have potentially aided the situation.

1) I rearranged my office at work so I don't turn my head in a weird way to look at the computer.  Because of this, I don't have constant neck pain - pain that prevented me from ever getting comfortable in bed.

2) Jonathan got this IN-CRED-I-BLE mouth piece that makes him not snore.  I mean, 100%, he doesn't snore anymore.  And in turn, I don't have to deal with earplugs.  The earplugs were tricky since I tossed & turned so much - so any time I'd switch sides, I'd have to adjust the ear plug.

3) I wear socks to bed.  (Katie's grandmother [I think] read an article saying that people who wore socks slept better.  No clue if this is a placebo effect for me - but I'll take it.)

4) We got rid of the tv in the bedroom.  (Well, it's not gone, but it doesn't get turned on anymore.)

5) I've started sleeping with an extra blanket.  I didn't necessarily realize that I was waking up a lot because I was cold.

6) I've started going to bed a little later (unless I'm super tired, of course).  We used to religiously get in bed at 10 and watch tv until we fell asleep.  Now I'll get in bed anywhere between 10 and 10:45 - and a lot of times, I'll get in bed and read until I get sleepy.  It equates to going to sleep at ~11 every night.

7) I stop consuming all liquids at 8pm (unless I have a nighttime cup of tea).  This eliminates middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks.

Another sort of funny thing is that I've started wearing those Breath Right nose strips at night.  I'm not sure this affects my sleep at all - but I noticed that pretty consistently (but especially when I lay down), at least one of my nostrils is clogged.  The Breath Right opens them up a little.

That's all I have to say, really.  If any of you have trouble sleeping & can't ever imagine it getting better, I definitely recommend trying out some new routines.  I thought I was a hopeless case and have been very pleasantly surprised.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Memphis Greenline

Picture from: http://greatermemphisgreenline.org/

In the beginning of the month, the first phase of the Greater Memphis Greenline opened.  Its 7 miles span from Tillman Road (in Binghampton) all the way out to Shelby Farms.  It's what's called a "rails-to-trails" project (which is just as it sounds: a former cross-city railroad turned into a paved pedestrian & bike trail).

Jonathan and I went out for the first time on Saturday morning and were so impressed with the whole thing - it's really awesome!  As you can see in the picture, it's a perfectly paved little path that's lined with tons of shade-providing trees.  There were a LOT of people - bikers and joggers/walkers, and then quite a few families (kids on kiddie bikes or being pulled in wagons).

If you're reading my blog and are familiar with Memphis, I'm sure you can imagine how great this is for the city.  And if not - just know that even though paved trails are pretty common in other cities - this is a huge step for our city.  It's been built really nicely and safety is a #1 concern (as we saw police monitoring the trail itself and patrolling traffic at the road intersections).

I can't wait for it to extend into Midtown!  But in the meantime, I'm happy to drive a little out East to be able to enjoy this beautiful new asset to our city!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'll Have a Beer, Please

I was in my friend Amanda's wedding a few years ago.  After her professional pictures arrived, she sent the link to her friends so we could see/buy them.  I then forwarded the link to my mom, who I knew would enjoy seeing all of us.  A couple days after, I got an email that said something like this:

"Cute pics!  Thanks for sending them.  Maybe going forward, you should ask the bartenders at weddings to pour your beer in a glass?"

I looked back through some of the reception pictures and immediately knew what she was talking about.  Seeing all of us in matching dresses holding bottles of Bud Light looked, I don't know, tacky?  Redneck?  Drunk?  Sloppy?  Everything just looked a little less nice/fancy than if we'd had, maybe, a glass of wine in hand.  Or a highball glass with a clear liquid.

So here's the thing.  I love wine - I really do.  I also love beer.  They're my "go-to" drinks.  Vodka/soda is my liquor go-to, but probably 75% of the time, I'm drinking wine or beer.

Now generally speaking, I'd say wine is the "classier" drink vs. beer.  No doubt if we'd all had glasses of sauvignon blanc when the pictures were taken at Amanda's wedding, we would've looked fancier than we did with bottles of Bud Light.  But usually at weddings (or really any fancy event, for that matter), I choose beer over a glass of wine.

1) I'm not a wine "snob" necessarily, but I guess I can comfortably say I recognize a nice glass of wine.  And usually at fancy events with catering, the wine is of lesser quality than what we'd have in, say, our house or if we were eating at an upscale restaurant.  It's not that I wouldn't ever want to drink a less expensive wine, but since I like beer a lot, too, I choose to only drink wine when I know it's something good.

2) I tend to drink fast, generally.  So if I'm drinking equally fast with a glass of wine or a beer, I'm much more able to control my drinking with beer. 

3) I find that wine has a nasty tendency to sneak up on you.  So you're going on your merry way enjoying a couple glasses and then BOOM you're drunk and you didn't even mean to be.  Beer makes itself known.  So as you're on your second beer, you start to feel its effects and can choose to continue or stop without ever getting to "the point of no return."

4) Red wine, which is my wine of choice, makes you sort of toasty.  So if it's summer and you're at a wedding, red wine is going to heat things up even more than they already are.

5) Wine will occasionally make me sleepy.  Beer never does.

At my own wedding, even though I only had about 1-2 drinks total, those 1-2 were beer poured into a glass.  (Although in retrospect, I should've skipped alcohol altogether and gone for Diet Coke/coffee/Red Bull - anything with caffeine.)

So what about you guys - what's your go-to?  Does it differ with the different events you attend -  fancy (wedding, work party, charity thing, etc.) vs. casual (house parties, happy hours, family gatherings, etc.)?