Tuesday, November 28, 2006

good post-holiday meeting

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Today was my last meeting at my current Weight Watchers@Work session. There will be a meeting next week but I will be out of town. I may try to make it to some other meetings before the next session starts, especially because my leader hinted that some updates to the program will be revealed the week of December 11.

Since it was so popular, I updated my chart to reflect the last couple weeks' weigh-ins. I also added a "line of best fit," which is something that Microsoft Excel will do for you if you read enough Help files to figure out how. It shows the trend of the data in the graph. As you can see, the trend is a nice, gradual downward slope. That is fine with me. As much as I sighed over Audrey Hepburn's arms in my last post, I know that I would FREAK OUT if I started looking completely different in the mirror to myself all at once. That happened to me last time around. I think that losing more gradually this time will help me keep it off, at least I'm hoping.

Thanks to everyone for your kind words, especially Alicia for the incredibly flattering comparison, which is still one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me. I wasn't trying to sound sad, I was just trying to think about things in a realistic framework and work towards acceptance.

I was thinking more about "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and it's so amazing to watch a movie in which the heroine is smart and funny and incredibly beautiful. Women used to be smarter in movies than they are now. I told my husband that it's probably that the writers and producers got dumber. Now women are expected to choose between being smart (and less attractive) and being pretty (and dumb). Even "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" seems to suggest that Noelle is dumb because she's pretty, and that Abby has developed her brains instead of her beauty, which means that she is romantically unsuccessful, at least until she does the goofy charade where she lets Noelle be the face of Abby to a guy until he falls for her. Of course, the fact that Jeannine Garafolo is beautiful in her own right confuses things and makes the movie seem a little silly and pointless.

Watch movies from the "Classics" section in your video store and you'll see gorgeous, sexy women who charm men, often sort of simple-minded hunky ones, with their wits. I'd love to see a movie like "The Lady Eve" made today.

Monday, November 27, 2006

unrequited love

I watched "Breakfast at Tiffany's" last night on Oxygen. It seems impossible that someone could be as beautiful and graceful as Audrey Hepburn. I think she might have been the most beautiful woman who ever lived. None of the current flavor-of-the-day starlets even hold a candle. They might get as thin as her, but they never figured out how to emulate her style and grace.

Still, the beautiful, lithe body Audrey Hepburn had would be an impossibility for me, even if I didn't have the occasional tragic love affair with snack food. I have always desperately wanted to have this kind of look -- fragile, delicate, elegant -- but my body isn't, even at its bones, like that at all. I have had an unrequited love affair with that coltish, slender body type for most of my life. I think it's time to stop carrying a torch for it, as I (quickly) approach my 36th birthday, and accept that though it might be possible for me to improve on the body I have, I can't change from a Clydesdale to a Thoroughbred.

I keep telling myself this, but a part of me still holds out with, "Maybe if I just worked a little harder," despite the fact that I've never actually been as thin as Marilyn, let alone Audrey. By the way, despite all the propaganda that "Marilyn Monroe wore a size 16," if you actually look at pictures of her, she was pretty thin when she was younger and just made the most of the cleavage she had. As she got older, she put on a little weight, like most of us do.

Maybe I'll just try to be the best possible version of myself. How's that for a revolutionary idea?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

road trip!

I ended up feeling stuffed to the gills on Thanksgiving and the day after. I always have a hard time with portion control at family functions. I had to try all three kinds of pie (though the pieces were small), plus I acted as if I suddenly rediscovered the existence of potato chips. Enough said, though as usual I'm not looking forward to my weekly weigh-in. After two days of food and family, we needed to find something more exciting to do today, so we took a road trip.

I have applied to five schools so far: Schools A thru E. Yesterday, my husband and I strolled around in the neighborhood where we'd live if I got hired by School D, which is a short drive from where I live now and closer to his work. Today, since we had no major plans, we took a two-hour drive to see School A, since neither of us had ever been there or knew much about it other than what we've read on the web. The university is nice, and though the town is a little run-down, it has some nice historic homes and a great little downtown district and we could see ourselves living there. We had coffee and bagels in a cozy little shop across from campus. Then we drove to a state park that is within an easy drive of School A. We had a fun time hiking in the woods and up and down hills. We ended up hiking around for about an hour. We ate lunch near the park and then headed for home, a little muddier but happy that we got out in what might be the last warm and sunny day of the year. We stopped on the way home to pick up falafel sandwiches for dinner -- one of the saddest prospects of relocating is that if we move far from Toledo, Lebanese food might be harder to find. So we had a nice adventure and got home before dark, hopefully working off a little bit of pie in the process.

So far School D still has a bit of an edge in the imaginary horse race, though of course we have to see what all these hiring committees think of me before making any real decisions, don't we? And you never know what charms yet-as-unknown Schools F through Z might hold.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

insurance companies...argh!

I had what should have been a minor problem with our prescription coverage, but because I kept getting the runaround (pharmacy told me to call the insurance company...insurance company told me the pharmacy was at fault...pharmacy pointed back to the insurance company...insurance company told me to call the benefits office...) I ended up throwing a fairly embarassing temper tantrum in the pharmacy. Luckily, when I finally called the benefits office, they knew what was wrong and fixed it right away, but not after I had to give my husband's Social Security Number while sitting in the pharmacy talking on my cell phone. The annoying thing was, they knew that there had been a clerical error on most of their employee's spouse accounts, but they didn't fix it proactively, they just waited for people to have problems and call. My husband's employer is a very bureaucratic institution and this is really par for the course with them.

I didn't want to leave the pharmacy until this got straightened out because with the holiday weekend coming, I didn't want to be without my prescription. What a royal pain in the behind. I really think I need to start looking for jobs in Canada so that I can get out of HMO Hell.

Speaking of the job search, in case you're counting, I now have five applications out. Let's call them School A, School B, School C, School D, and School E. I applied for two today (D and E) and got a request back for more information from one of the places I applied (C) the other day. One of the two new applications (School D) would be an ideal situation for me, so it would be a tough decision if both School A and School D offered me jobs. But I'll wait until I get interviews at those schools, maybe until I get one job offer before I decide which job I should take. I haven't sent back the information School C requested yet. It's one where they want a minimum salary figure. I really have to do some research so I don't give them a number that's ridiculously low or way too high.

I didn't do any transcribing today and I didn't get to the gym as planned. I think I might see if my husband would let me tag along on his run after work today, though I'd probably just go for 15-20 minutes since I ran yesterday. I need to work out the residual aggravation from the whole pharmacy encounter.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend.

Monday, November 20, 2006

alone

My husband has been out of town for a couple of days, and I really miss him. I really don't appreciate most of the time how hard it would be for me to live alone. I find myself staying up too late, even when I have to get up early, and I don't really like to cook for myself so I end up eating at restaurants more than I should. The only good thing is that I get all the pillows and blankets to myself at night.

Luckily he's on his way home tonight.

I'm sure some people enjoy living alone, but I wouldn't like it at all.


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Saturday, November 18, 2006

another shopping trip

I went shopping today at the Toledo Macy's for the first time since the new name went up on the building. No sign of Clinton and Stacy, unfortunately.

I am old enough to remember when it was Hudson's and when it switched to Marshall Field's. It seems like each time the store is bought out, there are less people working the registers. I got plenty of offers of help when I was looking at the merchandise, but I had to wait a long time to check out each time, and today was a slow Saturday because of the big Ohio State vs. Michigan game. I hope with the holidays coming up that they will start adding open registers. I usually try to avoid the mall after Thanksgiving anyway, because now that Toledo is down to one functional mall, the place is mobbed every day from the day after Thanksgiving to the day after Christams.

On the plus side, I got myself some really nice things: two pairs of earrings, some basic brown and black socks, and a purple cashmere sweater. With the various coupons I had, I saved $45. I haven't bought anything for myself in a while and I decided I deserved a little splurge. I had considered a pedicure, but cashmere lasts longer.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

skipping a meal to fight world hunger

I had seen publicity about this in previous years, but this was the first year that I decided to actually stop making excuses and skip a meal as a way of "remembering the more than 850 million people who go to sleep hungry" as suggested by Oxfam America. My husband is also doing the fast today. We will donate the money that we would have spent on lunch to Oxfam. The traditional day for this is the Thursday before Thanksgiving, but you can choose any day that you like. Obviously this is not recommended for people with diabetes or various other conditions that would make skipping a meal dangerous or otherwise unhealthy.

I figured that I, as a healthy, well-fed American (a little overly well-fed, as evidenced by the fact that I have a blog dedicated to my weight-loss efforts) could easily afford to miss lunch one day. I had oatmeal for breakfast and a banana after my morning run, but I'm waiting until dinner to have anything else. It's a very small sacrifice for someone like me, but I really can't imagine what it must be like for the people who experience this every day, and not by choice. About an hour ago my stomach was growling but now it's just kind of achy. I find it freaky how aware I am of food smells. But I feel fine otherwise and I'm a little ashamed that it took me this long to finally try the fast. In other years, I thought, "Oh, I'll just donate," but I really think that having this feeling fresh in my mind will make the check a little bigger than it would have been otherwise, and I'm sure that is why Oxfam suggests the fast and not just the check.

Fasting is, of course, part of most major religions, but by the time I went to Catholic school, Good Friday fasting wasn't recommended for children anymore, so I never purposely have tried it. Muslims, of course, fast for the entire month of Ramadan:
Due to the lack of preoccupation with the satisfaction of bodily appetites during the daylight hours of fasting, a measure of ascendancy is given to one's spiritual nature, which becomes a means of coming closer to God. Ramadan is also a time of intensive worship, reading of the Qur'an, giving charity, purifying one's behavior, and doing good deeds.

As a secondary goal, fasting is a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the less fortunate, and learning to thankfulness and appreciation for all of God's bounties. Fasting is also beneficial to the health and provides a break in the cycle of rigid habits or overindulgence.
I think, with the major feast coming up next week and all the other opportunities coming up for overeating in the next month and a half, it is a good time to pause and reflect that for a lot of people, food isn't something to be taken for granted. And consider donating to Oxfam or to The Cherry Street Mission to help hungry people right here in Toledo, Ohio.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

weigh-ins

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I don't have a lot of time to blog today, but instead of the ticker I usually to track my weight, I decided to include a chart that gives more of a history of what has been happening lately. Last week I gained almost 4 pounds. As of today, that is all gone except 0.4 -- not bad considering that I was over by 20 points (almost a whole day's worth) at least 2 days this last week. I want to get that line moving down, but with the holidays coming, I at least want to avoid any more upticks like last week's.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

why my blog is semi-anonymous

I have gotten a couple of requests for more details about my dissertation, my job search, etc. While I really appreciate the interest -- most people in my real life are already bored to tears from hearing about those topics -- I haven't given a lot of those details because I am keeping my blogs semi-anonymous. I am looking for an academic job, and have heard that there is a lot of prejudice against bloggers, to the point where there was an article in the Chronicle called Bloggers Need Not Apply. So I'm not being coy or evasive, but dissertation topics are specific enough that to put too much information here would be a dead giveaway. I am sure a determined person could connect the dots, but I don't want to make it too easy for them. Although I try not to write anything here that would embarass me or a future employer, I also don't think the details of my weight-loss efforts or my opinions on various political issues need to be a part of my job application package.

As an overview, though, my dissertation research involves one-on-one interviews, which is why you see me traveling around here and there. I am hoping to have these interviews completed by winter break, and spend the first few months of next year analyzing the interview data and writing my first draft. If all goes well, I will graduate next summer.

As far as the job search, I am to the point where I am applying to listings as they appear, but there is no real news to report. I am hoping to get the timing right so that I start my Dream Job next fall, if I get fortunate enough to find a job that is a good match and manage to show the search committee that I am smart and competent and enthusiastic about teaching and research. I am trying to keep things regional because I value my close relationships with my family members. My husband likes his current job but is willing to move if I get a good offer.

If anyone reading this is in the job search process, it might be a good idea to do a Google search on yourself now and then just so you know what is "out there" about you. I have heard about people (mostly in their twenties) losing job opportunities because they posted rude or drunk pictures of themselves on mySpace. A lot of people apparently don't think about the fact that if that stuff is out there, a prospective employer might see it. I Google my own name periodically and it's funny that even though my name is fairly uncommon, a lot of people share it who are completely different from me. One is a cellist and another is a high school student in Germany. I am happy to report that none, so far, appear on the Registered Sex Offenders or Most Wanted lists.

Friday, November 10, 2006

missing the point

I know that $250,000 is a lot of money. I also know that winning "The Biggest Loser" title might also have other perks, like endorsements or future paid appearances on NBC shows (like Matt & Suzy's cameos on "The Today Show" highlighting their offscreen romance). But the real prize on this show, and one that all of the contestants can win, is the chance to get their lives back.

Though I didn't watch the first season because I didn't like the constant in-your-face food challenges, in the second season the show's producers seemed to hit on a winning formula -- choose very overweight people who might see themselves as "no hopers" and give them serious physical challenges to boost their confidence and teach them that they could be winners. That formula had me in tears during almost every episode of Season 2. Though the people on the teams competed with each other, there wasn't the gameplaying that dominated shows like "Survivor." After the first few weeks, there was the sense that Red Team, Blue Team, whatever, all the competitors were genuinely invested in each other's success.

This time around, though, things have changed. Hiring a fitness model instead of a real trainer for the Red Team was the first mistake. Kim seems more concerned with staying flexed out for the camera than teaching her team how to exercise and work together as a group. For example, her temper tantrum this week when the newest member of her team expressed some doubts that the workouts were effective. Kim pitched a fit, keeping her abs tight all the while, and told the new girl that if she didn't do as she was told, she was completely on her own.

I think that Kim's lack of leadership has allowed Heather, who is a much stronger personality, to take over as the real leader of the group and turn the emphasis to "The Game" instead of teaching the contestants how to live happier, healthier lives. So this week she purposely gained weight so she could send Bobby (a stronger competitor) home and guarantee herself a big loss next time. I hope that the strategy backfires in some way. Now that the game has shifted to "everyone for him/herself," she may have a harder time staying in it, because many weeks she seemed to rely on her teammates to cover for her lackluster numbers.

Matt, who won last season, seems to have regained more than the 27 pounds discussed publicly. He was also more into "the game" than the other competitors at times, and I think that once you get back into the real world, the game can't carry you, you have to supply your own motivation. The ones who seem to do the best are the ones who realize that getting to a healthy weight is worth a lot more than $250,000 in the long run, like Pete from last season, who lost almost half his body weight and is now training for marathons (and snagged a $100,000 consolation prize in the process).


Thursday, November 09, 2006

goals and goofs

I have applied to a couple of jobs already and have gotten back the letters acknowledging the receipt of my applications. One school indicated in their letter that they expect to conduct their interviews in February. Assuming I get invited to interviews, I am going to have to buy a new suit. I have two nice suits, both size 14, that I have "undergrown," as Vickie would say. So in the back of my mind today, I'm thinking how much happier I would be buying that suit in a size 8 or 10 than I would be buying it in a 12. I would probably make a better impression if I was closer to my goal weight, too. Getting to goal weight by February is possible, as long as I really work at it and don't let my motivation get swept away by the Olympic Eating Months. So, just in case I needed another reason to get serious about the weight loss, I have another incentive: When I whip out my Visa card (with $5000 and my name on it?), it would be nice to be at goal weight and not just buy another suit in a size I hope is temporary.

Last night I went to dinner with a friend, and I suggested Panera because I wanted to get a salad. I was a little behind on my veggie servings for the day. Now, I know that their cookies and pastries are a diet disaster, but I didn't realize how bad their salads really were. I wouldn't have expected half of a salad that contained only vegetables and vinegrette to cost me 200 calories and 19 grams of fat. Note to self: Check the website before going to the restaurant next time. Or at least skip the cookie and get the dressing on the side.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

oof!

My food has been admittedly messy since my last weigh-in. I didn't track my points at all Friday through Monday. I had a couple of bowls of pasta on Monday because I didn't eat enough early in the day and was just ravenous when I got home. Then we went out for appetizers and drinks and split a dessert that night. So I wasn't overly surprised to see that I had a gain on weigh-in yesterday, but I was kind of shocked that it was so large. Even my Weight Watchers leader looked a little shocked:




Oof. Why is it that it takes me weeks and weeks to lose 3.6 pounds but only a few days to gain it? Realistically, I know that I didn't eat anywhere near 3,500 extra calories each day, so it is probably a "real" gain of a pound or so and a couple of pounds of water retention from salty appetizers. But still, not the direction I want to be heading.

Yesterday I was already dipping way into my weekly flex points because my husband and I had a "Geek Superbowl" evening -- camped out in front of the TV late into the night with beer and snacks, watching the election returns come in.

What I need to do, though, is realize that if my impulse is to not count points, that should tell me that I know I'm not doing the right things with my food. Or exercise. I've also blown off a couple of workouts lately.

I am happy that the Democrats did well last night, though maybe not as well as everyone had hoped. I am tired today, though, and just feeling generally down about a lot of things: the dissertation which seems to stretch out into infinity, the scarcity of interesting job postings, and my inability to follow a very simple food plan.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

it's gotta be the shoes

I got talked into these Onitsuka Tiger "Ultimate 81s" by my running-nut husband. They're shoes that were made before the company name changed to Asics, so besides having a cool retro look, these are very old-school running shoes without a lot of the technical bells and whistles you find in modern shoes. They're sort of trendy now and people are buying them to wear with their jeans at the mall, but we both bought them to actually run in them.

I had worn them for a few short runs and they feel really good. It's weird, you can actually feel the ground under your feet through them, but they have enough support and motion control in the heel to keep my feet stable while I run and not let my arches fall. What I like most is how light they feel and how flexible they are in the front of the shoe. I ran an hour in them today, just to see if they would work for a long run. I felt terrific. At the end of the run I was running really fast (for me) as if I were finishing a race. It was a beautiful fall day for a run and I felt fantastic. I had a lot of nagging injury issues that had kept me from feeling really good while running and so far these shoes seem to be keeping them at bay.

I may have to buy a couple more pairs before the trend runs its course. I may have to start importing them from Japan if I still love them so much when they're not cool anymore.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

things (productive and un-) that I have been doing with my time




First, yesterday I attended a Weight Watchers meeting where I finally saw the magical 165 number, though it was followed by a pesky .4 -- I had been hoping for better but I will take it. I am not sure that this represents a real loss, since I attended a different meeting, didn't eat anything before it, only drank a small cup of coffee, and wore my lucky weigh-in pants. I would not recommend this strategy as I had a pretty bad headache afterward.

I have been trying not to obsess about the Midterm elections. I have cut myself off from polls and speculations about who will win. I got so wrapped up in the 2004 Elections that I felt physically sick when I found out how things turned out. So other than watching my two favorite hunks, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, serve up their version of the news a few nights a week, I have been trying not to pay too much attention. I have already voted and may try to help with GOTV efforts, but otherwise I'm just going to hope for the best.

I have been setting up arrangements for another research trip to Chicago. Hopefully this time will be a much less frantic experience than the last one. I am thinking I may stay an extra night, even with the extra expense this means, just so that I'm not rushed and worried about how to manage luggage if I check out and still have things to do.

I have been lurking on job postings boards and forums and generally obsessing about the job postings (or lack thereof) in my chosen field. I have been browsing the websites of places I have applied or am thinking about applying. I have taken these activities past the point that they would be productive and really need to rein them in.

My job has really been interesting and has kept me busy lately. This is terrific but, of course, adds another excuse to my list of reasons why I haven't had enough time to transcribe interviews (even though I have time to do all the aforementioned activities).

As Lori said, I didn't write anything about The Biggest Loser yet this week. I was afraid that my posts might have become spoilers for people who tape it or watch it later. But I have to say, I am really happy that they broke up the teams and did the duos. It may help to short-circuit the unhealthy dynamic that was developing on the Red Team. If I were Kai, I would be very angry Erik for letting her free pass be a reason to slack off and gain three pounds. That pass could have been a lifesaver later in the game, but instead she had to waste it because he wanted to take a little vacation. I was happy to see that Pam and Brian both did so well at home after leaving the ranch. I can no longer root for Heather to be voted off, because she is paired with my favorite member of the Blue Team, Bobby. I am really interested to see more of the new arrivals next week and find out how they all did. There was a great article on TBL in the Los Angeles Times recently, talking about whether people who lose this fast can keep the weight off. I think that in the case of people who are seriously overweight, a drastic approach may really help some people who wouldn't otherwise ever reach their goals.

OK, enough playing. I need to get back to my transcription. Whee!

P.S. I almost forgot. My kitties had been literally playing cat-and-mouse games this week. We had a smallish mouse in the house, which I only noticed because they caught it a couple of times, played with it in front of us, and before we could take it away, let it go. This was not making me very happy. This morning we found poor Mousie dead under the coffee table. They apparently lost interest once Mousie couldn't play with them anymore. Mousie went out in the trash today, may she RIP. In the nine years that we have lived here, this is the third time we've found a dead mouse in the house. Only once had they eaten part of one. I think they are too well-fed to be interested in creatures as snacks and not just toys. I hadn't ever seen a live one or signs of one until this week. Once in a while I find a dead cricket in the basement and they have been known to catch and eat flies in the summer. So my Natural Born Killers are doing their jobs, even if they took their sweet time about it this week.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

meeting-hopping

I think I'm going to go to a meeting tomorrow since I missed my regular one on Tuesday. There's one at 10:00 not too far away. I did an unofficial weigh-in on Tuesday and it was 164.5 -- I'd like to see that number on the WW scale, dressed and in the middle of the afternoon.

I'm feeling discouraged because things are going so slow, but at the same time, I know that it's a reflection of my lack of commitment. I don't want to completely skip a week, considering that a lot of times, my meeting is what gets me back in line for a while.

I am tired of all the self-examination and happy talk about why this is such a learning experience -- I just want the weight GONE.
"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07