Monday, February 25, 2008

just the motivation I needed...

Spending 30 minutes vacuum-dusting the entire living room isn't merely insanely boring, tedious, demeaning drudgery counts as an activity point!! A credit to my daily allotment of caloric intake.

But seriously, I probably would have vacuum dusted the living room anyway. It really needed it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'm trying, dammit!

I'm going to do my very best not to publicly obsess about this weight loss thing, but I have to admit that it's just about the only thing I can think of right now. (Roseanne had a great list of the first 10 steps to weight loss. I wish I could find it, but I do remember that the first step was "join Weight watchers and become obsessed with food.")

I suppose it's a nice break from yakking on and on about yarn and knitting. :P

I was having a bad day yesterday, full of self-doubt and anger. I knew I would come to that phase eventually; I just didn't expect it to happen on day 10. I decided to go to a meeting, even though I'd already gone this week, hoping it would be the moral boost that I needed. I really liked the leader; she had a much better vibe than the one who leads the Tuesday group (who unfortunately has the same cheerfully bubbly personality of hairdressers and dental hygienists, which always strikes me as somewhat false.) However, the Friday group also contained two women who are quite possibly the most negative people on the planet. I'm not sure I want to switch if I have to deal with them every week. Perhaps they were also having a bad day and bonding in their misery. But, I did feel a lot better after the meeting, and got the moral boost I needed.

Plus, I bought a new pair of shoes. That also helped. :P

On a positive note, I did actually walk 10,000 steps yesterday. This is the first time I've made it. With my normal routine, plus walking to the library during lunch, and walking the dogs, I reach 7500 hundred steps without any problem. I didn't go to the library yesterday, but I did walk back from the meeting (the shoe store was right on the way, so no detour for that), so I guess that did it. And I am a bit sore today; not bad, but I feel it.

oh, cruel fate

I walked into the living room and saw Oscar and Kate the Wonder Dog asleep on the couch. She was curled up with her head on his lap, and he'd curled up and was using her back for a pillow.

It was the very definition of adorable.

And the damn camera batteries are dead.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dear concerned office-worker,

I highly doubt that there's a conspiracy against you just because the snack vendor hasn't come by this week to refill the snack machine.

I also doubt that someone has it out for you because the slot with the snickers candy bars doesn't work.



The what monologue?

Esteemed colleague,

I admire that you have the self-confidence to discuss matters regarding your intimate parts in an office setting without lowering your voice.

I agree that it's important to remove the cast of secrecy and shame that so many women have about their bodies. There truly is nothing inherently shameful about our female anatomy.

However, I do believe that your attempts at female empowerment would be greatly enhanced if you were to actually use the word "vagina". This is the clinical name of that particular female body part that you were so emboldened to discuss within earshot of me and five of my other colleagues.

Please, repeat after me.


Not va-jay-jay.

It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change!

I have a confession to make. I'm a bit embarrassed about it, which in Luneray logic, makes perfect sense to post on my blog. There's no shame liked shared shame.

I have joined Weight Watchers.

There, I said it. I'm not a fat activist, but I've long come to terms with my weight. I don't even have any particular desire to be thin, and still firmly believe that I am one of the luckiest people in the history of humankind to live in an era and place where food is plentiful and cheap and hunger is truly rare. (Yes, there is involuntary hunger in the United States, which is an abomination.)

While I never expect to weigh 120 lbs (nor do I want to), I am heavier than I want to be. I notice it and its slowing me down. It's like that that one extra library book in the backpack. The pack may be full, and you notice the weight, but it's not a burden. But then you add a few more books, and suddenly the pack feels like a real load. You notice it. It's heavy enough to slow you down, make you sweat. Add a few more books and now you don't want to carry it more than 1/2 block.

I have to admit that I've been toying with "weight loss" for awhile, but wasn't going to commit to it until I was ready. There were little things that pushed me along, like discovering that my baggy pants weren't quite as baggy anymore, and that knitting a sweater for my size takes a really freaking long time. But the final straw was the my fantastic Icelandic road sign T shirt shrunk in the wash and doesn't fit anymore. I want to wear that shirt again, dammit!

I've entered into a friendly competition with my supervisor. It was actually my idea because she's been bemoaning the fact that she's having a hard time keeping on the Weight Watchers plan (she started up several months ago and has lost a lot of weight). She is really competitive and I am not. However, because I am not competitive, I rarely join in a contest unless I feel I have a pretty good chance of winning. :P The stakes aren't high--the "loser" takes the "winner" to a movie.

So, I'm in my second week. The program has changed substantially since I was on it in the early 90s. (I have to admit that part of my cynicism toward weight loss is that I have never, ever met a single person who has done any plan just once.) Before, their focus was on food types and servings. Food was divided into fat, fruit, vegetables, dairy, starch, and protein and you had a certain number of servings from each group that you had to eat each day, plus you got a certain number of "optional calories" each week that you could use as you chose. I liked the idea behind this because it did focus more on nutrition and eating a balanced diet.

However, I quit going to the program though because the meetings seemed to focus more on pushing WW foods than on eating healthy. Ok, so what if eating WW chocolate cake counts as 1 bread serving and 10 optional calories? How about teaching us about ways to curb our need for sweets in other ways? I also refuse to eat "fake food" as part of my normal diet. If I want chocolate cake, I'm going to splurge on the good stuff!

But now the WW program has more "economic" focus. Every food has a point value assigned to it, and each person gets a certain number of points they have to consume each day. The daily point value is determined by age, gender, initial weight, and average activity level. So, like a checkbook, you debit your daily points consumed. Each person also gets an additional 35 points each week to use or not. Plus you can get "activity points" which credit against your daily point total. Yesterday, I consumed 1.5 more points than my daily target, but I earned three activity points that day, so I balanced out. (See what I mean by "economic"?)

The thing I like about this program is that nothing is forbidden. I can truly eat anything I want, as long as I stay within the point goal. (Theoretically, I can eat nothing but three Starbucks cinnamon rolls per day and still lose weight. It's tempting, let me tell you.) Points are calculated based on fiber, calories, and fat per serving.

I've only started the second week, and have only been to two meetings, but I am concerned that the focus isn't nutritional balance but only points. The program's supporting materials give lots of recipe suggestions, which tend to be balanced but no nutritional guidance in the meetings themselves. Protein foods tend to be high point value and I wonder how many people try to cut out proteins and end up so hungry that they give up?

I am not going to deny myself anything. I am not going to eat fat-free anything unless it comes that way naturally. Nor am I going to eat nothing but green salads, and carrot and celery sticks. I do like green salads, but not exclusively. My first week, I ate a starbucks cinnamon roll (10 points), had a bubble tea (8 points), as well as mochi ice cream and a beer (no, not together. That'd be disgusting.) and still managed to lose a few pounds. I ended up going out to restaurants more than I expected and kind of fell of the wagon, but I did seem to learn something. I had only one beer even though I wanted a second. I chose chili and salad instead of burger and fries. And I was honest with myself. I kept track of everything I ate.

It's a start.

Friday, February 08, 2008

luneray--professional photographer?

the other day I received this email via flickr:

:: Inquiry from SPIN magazine

Hello! I am interested in using your photo of a steamer
trunk in the April issue of SPIN. I want to make certain
that is acceptable and ask how you would like to be

Please be in touch with me at SPIN at your earliest
yours, jen

I thought this was rather odd, and possibly shady. I know people who are actually skilled photographers, and post really lovely photos on flickr. However, I'm not a skilled photographer and these photos are most definitely amateurish, done with a cheap digital camera, and taken only because I was trying to sell the trunk on craigslist and needed some pictures. In fact, the only reason these images were still on flickr is because I never got around to deleting them. (stupid flickr merged with yahoo and I couldn't remember my login info.)

But after hearing from some of these same skilled photographer friends that they had also received requests to use their photos in major publications, and that the contact info contained in the original email does in fact match up with an editor at SPIN magazine, I decided "what the hell" and wrote back giving my ok.

Her response:

So pleased to hear from you. Your photo of a steamer trunk will be running
quite small but it is just what we need for the page.

Hear that? "just what we need for the page."

Now, in answer to your burning, I'm not getting paid. I get a free issue of the magazine with my credited photo. c'mon, do YOU think these photos are worth paying for?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

and you think your day was bad

I ask you to please spare some kind thoughts for my friend Ms Swan (her blog name), who has had a really rough time lately. First, her landlord told her housemates that they had to move out, which Ms Swan didn't really mind because she didn't like the living situation either, but it was stressful for her because they were very spiteful. Since they've moved out, some very suspicious things have happened. 1) Her mail was cut off because someone notified the post office that the house was being vacated. She found this out when she got home and saw the bright pink tag on her mailbox. Ms Swan has diabetes and gets her medication via mail order pharmacy, and her prescription was returned. She did get everything straightened out but she didn't get her medication until about two weeks after it was supposed to be delivered. 2) The muffler fell off her car. 3)All of her tires were slashed. She called the police, who told her that this was probably a revenge act since no other vehicle in the neighborhood was attacked.

Ms Swan is very overweight due to a thyroid condition and the diabetes (she was quite slim until about four years ago) and signed up for the one insurance plan offered by the agency that paid for gastric-bypass surgery. There's quite a bit of medical evidence that this procedure essentially cures type 2 diabetes in adult patients (98% of the study participants had their symptoms disappear. Ninety-eight percent!!), which is why she was pursuing this option. The insurance company approved her for the surgery last August and she had started the pre-surgery procedures (counselling, changing her diet, etc), but then the agency dropped this plan for 2008. The replacement plan also covered the surgery but made her start the whole process over, frustrating her to no end. (There is only one doctor approved to do this surgery and he's booked about four months in advance. She can't even set an appointment until she has completed the mandatory pre-surgery program. Again.)

Between the vengeful ex-roommate, her financial issues (because of having to pay the full rent as well as the high cost of her medications at the beginning of the year until her deductible is met), and all the stuff about surgery, she's been really stressed out.

10 days ago, her friend took her to the hospital because it was obvious that something was really wrong. Ms Swan's blood pressure was dangerously high, and she was on the verge of a heart attack. She stayed in the hospital overnight until her blood pressure was brought down to a reasonable level. Unfortunately, that medication threw her insulin out of whack, so during the next five days, she was as sick as a dog while the doctor tweaked the dosage until her body found a balance. This was an expected side effect, but still unpleasant.

She has allergies, and her doctor took her off that medication (because increased blood pressure is a common side effect), and gave her a nasal steroid spray instead. These are generally quite safe but there are also some uncommon, but known, side effects with that medication as well. Ms Swan found this out on Saturday when she woke up and couldn't see out of one eye and had only limited vision and extreme sensitivity to light out of the other. Apparently, this steroid spray had ulcerated the backs of her eyes (three in one eye, and one in the other). Thankfully, these will heal and her vision will return but it does take some time. She's staying with a friend of hers this week, so she's being taken care of.

She's a tough lady, and not a complainer at all, and it hurts to see her suffering so.