Friday, June 21, 2013

Random Photos From Fall

These photos obviously weren't taken during my Eight Week Dreamcatcher project, but these are my favorites from a fall colors photography escapade H and I went on last September. I am considering including these in my possible entries into the County Fair, or at least printing one (or more) to frame for my a wall in my home.





Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thoughts on Childfree versus Childless and Other Labels People Throw Around

I was at a book club meeting discussing Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In (GREAT book by the way, will need to write a blog post about it in the future) and the discussion of kids came up. A long time but not super close friend of mine mentioned that she decided not to have kids, and half of the group umped on her about how she "would be such a great mom" and her husband "would be such a great dad!" To which she gracefully deflected and changed the subject.

However, it got me thinking. Mostly about how childless (not by choice) and childfree (by choice) both seem to have some sort of social stigma. I selected these particular labels for ease of writing. I think anyone without kids for any reason should be free to make their own decision on what to call themselves, if they want to choose a label at all.

Childless may get more sympathy from the public. Those who wanted to have children and were denied by the universe are dealing with so many thoughts and feelings, it's hard to make sense of it and come to peace. Therefore, we tend to keep it to ourselves, making us look like we're simply childfree.

Then again, childless make evoke more pity than sympathy, more gossip than understanding. I also often feel brushed under the rug, because I am what every want-to-be-mom fears the most: failure. A living, breathing example that not everyone gets their happy ending. Nobody wants to have to look that in the face, so I feel forgotten. Left behind.

On the surface, childfree and childless face the same pushy, nosy people wanting to know why you don't have kids. But kids are so great! Who's going to take care of you when you get old? Don't you feel like your life is empty? If you made the decision to be childfree, you have answers to those questions because you believe in your choice. But when you wanted children... every one of those questions opens up another wound. Your heart screams "Of course I do! My life is empty and meaningless! My sorrow will grow until the day I die because I don't have offspring to check on me to make sure I haven't fallen and broken a hip!"

That's why I don't necessarily identify with those who made the decision not to have kids, rather than having the decision made for you. But I can respect their choice, and maybe we should work together more. We're both in the minority, and if there is anything I have learned from living in this country is that the minority groups need to stick together or else the majority will walk all over us. So I welcome you with open arms. And if you ever get accidentally knocked up, I will gladly take your spawn off your hands, because what are friends for?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Project Dreamcatcher: Defining the Steps

I've defined my steps to complete my dream!

A big thank you to Stumbling Gracefully, as I wasn't really sure how I was going to do this. I'm one of those people that needs to see an example. I tried to make the steps my own, hopefully I'm not plagiarizing too much.

The ultimate deadline is to submit at least one photograph to the local County Fair, with the deadline to submit paperwork by mid-august and the photograph(s) due to judging by August 24!

Week 1 (June 17-23)
1. Complete week 1 of 12 weeks to better photos
2. Complete week 2
3. Take project photos on at least two separate days
4. Post 5-10 photos to blog

Week 2 (June 24-30)
1. Complete week 3
2. Take project photos on at least two separate days
3. Post 5-10 photos to blog

Week 3 (July 1-7)
1. Complete Week 4
2. Complete week 5
3. Take project photos on at least two separate days
4. Post 5-10 photos to blog

Week 4 (July 8-14)
1. Complete Week 6
2. Take project photos on at least two separate days
3. Post 5-10 photos to blog

Week 5 (July 15-21)
1 Complete Week 7
2. Take project photos on at least two separate days
3. Post 5-10 photos to blog

Week 6 (July 22-28)
1. Complete Week 8
2. Complete Week 9
3. Take project photos on at least two separate days
4. Post 5-10 photos to blog

Week 7 (July 29 - August 4)
1. Complete Week 10
2. Select 5-10 photos for potential Fair Entries
3. Post potential Fair Entry photos to blog

Week 8 (August 5-11)
1. Complete Week 11
2. Complete Week 12
3. Order prints for Fair Entry
4. Complete and submit exhibit entry for Fair
5. Post Final Fair Entry photos to blog

Would you like to join us and chase your dream? See Project Dreamcatcher.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Running (Or Lack Thereof)

Anyone who knows me or has been reading this blog for any length of time, knows that I'm a runner. Or more specifically, I used to be a runner.

First, I subjected myself to several IVF's, killing any running plans I had at the time. Then I was pregnant. Shortly after I miscarried, I moved to the mountains. Cue lack of oxygen induced wheezing and bone breaking ice. I've run a bit here and there, but not really anything to write home about. I did spend a lot of time last summer hiking and biking and walking, but aside from doing a sprint triathlon and a half-marathon practically off the couch, I haven't signed up for a single distance event. I certainly haven't trained for one either!

This year, some running buds invited me to join their Tahoe Ragnar Trail team and having had Ragnar envy ever since my witch of a boss at the time wouldn't let me join my co-worker's team, I jumped at the chance!



Just one little problem:



This little shit won't run, unless we are running back to the house.




I did find a little runner in this guy, amazingly enough! However, he's only good for short distances.

Which brings me to my problem - getting my training in when I have a puppy that needs to be worn out at a slow speed over lots of time. Last night I walked him for about 45 minutes, then dropped him off at home so I could run 3.5 miles. That was a mistake. I came home, blissfully tired and relaxed... and he hadn't gotten enough exercise to not be a terror.

So, I'm still figuring it out. I'm not as worried about the 17 miles over 24 hours that I will face at the Ragnar event, but I would like to train for a marathon this fall, specifically, the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. I'm not sure I got in, and I'm certainly not sure how I am going to afford the trip itself, but I'm itching to do another full. Now I have to figure out how to get my miles in. My guess is by being more disciplined. Like, waking up hours before my husband on weekends to run by myself kind of discipline. I've done it before, so I know I can. However, will I be able to also walk these guys the additional 2-3 hours that they usually require?

One more thing to consider - I'm hiking to the top of Mount Whitney on September 24. That's going to be a marathon in itself, and I'm not sure the dogs can handle those training hikes. I guess we'll see about that!

With the time I spend trying to run and hike when not managing a puppy, I don't have much chance to do anything else workout-wise. No push ups or sit ups, especially since those moves practically send a written invitation for dogs to come lick my face and jump on top of me (hey, additional resistance!). It's hard to follow a workout DVD when every 30 seconds you are grabbing a sock out of a little mouth or breaking up an altercation over a bully stick. I may be getting skinnier, but I'm certainly not getting more toned.

That being said, there is nothing like getting a puppy to force you to exercise! My lab was 17 years old - way past running and hiking - and my little dog is eight and lazy. There was absolutely no need to walk with them. Now that we have a puppy, regardless of his lazy leanings, you can tell he needs the exercise. Before puppy, I thought 10,000 steps a day was an accomplishment. After puppy, 10,000 steps a day is the minimum I need to get in order to keep my house intact. 12,000 - 15,000 is not unheard of and often preferred. There is nothing more peaceful than wearing that pup out and seeing him pass out on his bed. I can actually get something done!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dip's Rules of Weight Loss


First things first - I BUSTED through that plateau! It just goes to show you that a little slacking makes a big difference. Well, plus my period was here at the beginning of the week, which shows how much water weight you really do hold on to that time of the month. I credit at least two pounds to that alone.

What does that mean? I'm firmly in the 160's! 168 to be exact (butt naked of course). Woot woot! 10 more pounds and I can go weigh in at a meeting and get my WW lifetime status back! Aside from that (as long as I don't blow it over the weekend), this also means I win my DietBet on Monday! ::fingers crossed::

But this brings me to a more important topic - How do I do this? If you went back and read all of my weight loss related posts, you will see lots of posts about the individual things that I do in order to lose or maintain my weight. However, nobody has time for that. So I thought I would post about what I do and don't do to lose weight. With no further ado, I bring you...

DIP'S RULES OF WEIGHT LOSS

1. I EAT ANYTHING I WANT.
I do need to make sure that I'm eating things that I really want to eat, and ensure they are worth it. I've done Zone, Atkins, South Beach, etc. and I've even tried to do Paleo. What I realized is if I eliminate any one thing from my diet, that's what I crave. ALL THE TIME. It just doesn't work for me. But I also can't eat anything I want in the quantities I would like, which brings me to #2:

2. I TRACK WHAT I EAT.
Unfortunately, tracking is key to my success. I wish I could skip this, but I found out early on in my weight loss journey that I can just as easily overeat healthy stuff as much as I could junk food. Therefore monitoring my intake is required for success. I have professed my love for Weight Watchers before, but again, I love that they make calorie counting a little easier, a little more streamlined. They also give you what they call the "Good Health Guidelines" which basically ensures you are getting enough of the right foods to set your body up for optimal weight loss. If the Weight Watchers plan isn't working and I know I am tracking accurately, it's usually my lack of adherence to the GHG's. Now, do you have to track with Weight Watchers? Oh heck no! My Fitness Pal, Sparkpeople, and Lose It! are good alternates, as are many other calorie counting and food tracking websites. I tend to gravitate more to My Fitness Pal than any other site, for the more involved support system (very social!) and that my daily calorie goals are linked to your daily activity. Which brings me to my next point:

3. I'M ACTIVE.
I try to get at least 10,000 steps a day using my FitBit pedometer (which I love!). I get what Weight Watchers calls Activity Points for my efforts, which essentially allows me to eat more. My Fitness Pal will also gives you a higher goal when you record exercise. You should eat more when you're active! However, based on the WW model of exercise versus eating, I don't eat every calorie I burn. Based on an average of my daily intake, I eat about 1500 calories a day without even dipping into my activity calories. Some days it's closer to 1200-1300 and other days it's higher. When I earn Activity Point, well... yay! I get to eat more. But consider this - a 10,000 step day is about 600 extra calories burned above and beyond sitting on my ass, but it's only 4 Activity Points. One slice of whole wheat bread is about 80 calories and two points. So I burned 600 calories and I only eat 160 of them if I choose to? Now it makes sense to me why Weight Watchers has always worked better for me than calorie counting. Which is a good revelation, because my WW subscription runs out in a few weeks and I will be stuck losing my last 5-10 pounds on My Fitness Pal.

That's pretty much it. Short list, huh? Now, my specific weight loss strategy changes all the time, because what works for me at any given time may not work for me at another time, and of course may not work for others. Weight loss is a very individual process and isn't always as simple as calories in, calories out. Sometimes attitude, frame of mind, specific life situations, etc. can affect weight loss in much more complicated ways that I can even explain.

Also, this is the basics of being happy, feeling good and looking good in clothes. I can't say that I was totally comfortable in a bikini at the beach even at my Weight Watchers goal weight. Some people are gifted with genetics, and others have to work much harder. Maybe sometime in the (near?) future I will be more focused on getting my dream bikini body, which will have to coincide with more structured and disciplined eating and workouts.

Now, I'm sure someone is wondering how I busted out 4 pounds (essentially) in a week. Aside from the period weight, here is what I did this last week which I am confident helped me to drop pounds.

1. Cut out booze and desserts
Yes, I know I told you I eat anything I want, and that includes drinking and ice cream after dinner. However, in light of my upcoming weigh in for money, I cut these items this last week. Rest assured, they will be back Monday night as part of my balanced(?) eating plan.

2. Cut back on starchy carbs
Okay, I actually ate a little pasta 4 days out of the last five and had slice of bread with peanut butter on it last night after my run, but that's really nothing compared with the tortillas, bread, and pasta I normally eat as part of my regular diet. Did I eat fewer calories? No, but carbs tend to cause a little water retention, which is why low-carb diets cause you to lose a lot of weight quickly. It's just water, so again, this is not a change I am making long term. You can absolutely lose weight while eating carbs!

3. I ate high fiber foods, yogurt with probiotics and drank my coffee
Because when you keep your intestines moving along, there's no chance for poo to accumulate, adding unnecessary pounds. I feel like I lose more weight when I'm regular. It might be a mental thing, but it still makes me feel lighter!

4. I drank a ton of liquids
The more liquids you drink, the less your body holds on to. My liquid of choice this week was mostly weak unsweetened iced black tea. Iced herbal tea can take it up a notch, and if you're really desperate, water with lemon and cucumber can help you shed some of that water weight and bloating.

5. I cut back on snacking in between meals
I'm usually ravenous when I get home from work, and can easily consume 5 corn tortillas with butter before I even realize what I've done. I tried to take a more mindful approach to eating, evaluating if I'm hungry, making an informed decision on what I would eat after considering their point/calorie values, and then trying to actually make a plate and sit down. See the Beckman Diet.

Okay, I know that was a LOT. Hopefully it helps some of you. My last piece of advice is there is no half assed approach. You either want to make a change, or you don't. I can't even count the times when I said I wanted to lose weight and would even start a diet, but didn't care enough to actually follow the diet. When you are ready, you will be out of excuses. I'm serious!

My next post will discuss my exercise regimen (or lack thereof)!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Curses! A Plateau!!

At first I thought I was plateauing because I was slacking on my calorie consumption/food tracking/diet choices. Estimating combined with ice cream and wine was certainly the culprit and not part of my success plan. I am happy to say that I am definitely getting my exercise in, as I have not been less than 10,000 steps a day for a while (perhaps ever since I got the puppy and he could start going on walks)!

I thought as soon as I really started to track seriously, the weight would go back to dropping. Hmmmm. Not so much apparently. I might not be so concerned, except I did lay $25 on the line that I would be another three pounds down by THIS COMING MONDAY. Three pounds in less than a week. EEEEK!

I am on my period, so hoping that is some of the stagnation. In the meantime, I am drinking a gallon of tea a day and eating (mostly) clean. Greek yogurt and fruit for breakfast, salads with beans and vinegar for lunch, and healthy dinners filled with veggies and protein. My final weigh in must be submitted on either Monday or Tuesday, which means I need to stay focused over the weekend (not always easy, as I'm sure almost everyone can agree with) and if Monday morning's numbers are still sucky, I might be doing a cucumber/lemon water and green monster cleanse. Can you tell I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to money? With any luck and cooperation from my body, hopefully it won't go that far.

It's actually not just the money, it's the getting into the 160's, which I haven't seen since the summer before IVF#1. Goal weight is 169, so very, very motivated to get there and break this imaginary barrier.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Dream

I have always wanted to be as good of a photographer as my mother, but I wanted to take it a step further: I wanted to feel accomplished as a photographer. Maybe someday I would sell photos or even earn my living as a photographer, but for now, I just want to feel proficient. This is actually part of my 101 Things list, but every time I started on the tutorial, I would give up because I don't have a nice enough camera. My f-stops have no range, and my shutter speed isn't good enough to really see the difference. How am I supposed to learn, if I can't do the exercises and share my profound photos with you?

Because the photos aren't all of the lesson. That's how.

I have selected Photography as my dream. I am determined to not only get through all the lessons in this intro to photography tutorial, but also to print and frame a photograph, as well as enter a photograph into our local county fair. Part of this Dream will be taking lots of photos, and I won't limit myself to just my DSLR, but will also use my point and shoot, work camera and even my iphone. It doesn't make sense to limit myself when my best camera isn't that great, I should be focusing on making all my photos better, no matter what tool I happen to be using at the time.

Learn more about Project Dreamcatcher and join us!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Fit Bitch

Man, oh man. I really want to be an official Weight Loss Rebel Blogger.

I discovered Fit Bitch only recently, when a friend of mine posted a link to this blog post on Facebook.

I LOVED the blog post, so I looked at the Facebook page where the post was shared from, and found her website. I promptly liked her FB page. I mean, what's not to like? Hot chicks, blog posts about douchebags and internet dating (I've had my own streak of awful internet dates) and weight loss rebels!

Fast forward to today - she posted that she was looking for bloggers, Facebook posters and ambassadors. I would happily do anything for a chance to try out the program (have you seen her before and after photos? Hot. Damn.) so I promptly applied threw myself at her feet begging for mercy the opportunity to represent her fine program.

So wish me luck, that I will be accepted into the small band of rebels and their war against body fat! Fingers crossed!

P.S. I will probably be flattered even if all I get is an email acknowledgement. LOL

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Annual Physicals

I love the paperwork I have to fill out at my annual physical.

Number of pregnancies: 1 (there was a time when that would be zero, so yay uterus...?)
Number of births: 0 (good times)

Method of birth control?

I am usually good an either leave it blank or circle none, but I'm always tempted to write in "infertility"

In other news, all my shit looks good. Blood sugar was 99, Cholesterol was 199 with my HDL being high (yay!). Liver enzymes and inflammation all good. (I knew that shitty ass job with the fucked up boss was bad for my health! I love how everything is all normal now without me doing much different.) Waiting on my pap results still and have to get a mammogram when I turn 40, or at least sometime over the next year.

In the meantime, I know I am doing what's right for my health. So I'll keep plugging away at my weight loss and goals and life - just living my life has been the best medicine!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Relationships

I'm not good I suck at them.

You know that odd girl out, insecure and awkward, who never had the right clothes, haircut, lunch food, or toys? That was me most of my life, and I don't think I ever got over it. That sounds so simplistic, but it was a recurring theme while I was growing up. I had friends when I was really young, friends that didn't care what kind of clothes you wore or how much money your dad made, but I believe that was because we were living in a fairly poor area. Or at least lower middle class. There weren't many kids on my street, but I had lots of friends at school. Then I was transferred to a magnet program.

These kids in the magnet program, they were from the nicest areas of our city. They had the right clothes, listened to the right music, drank Capri Sun and ate Doritos at lunch. I wore Goodwill hand me downs and ate PB&J on store brand bread brought in a brown paper bag. They were athletic and good at sports, I had never played a sport, ANY sport in my life. I tried to fit in so hard, but I didn't measure up in their eyes. Some were cruel, most just ignored me, and the few who were my "friends" were mean to me most of the time and took advantage of me. I just wanted to be liked. I just wanted to fit in. I just wanted to have friends.

Then my dad was transferred overseas - I really thought I would get a new start with a whole new group of kids! Unfortunately, it was the same. The same cliques, the same materialistic bullshit. Once a dork, always a dork? I then turned around and rebelled - I wasn't going to wear the clothes they wore, or listen to the music they liked, or do the same things they did. They didn't really like me any more than they did before, but I didn't care. I was going to be me, and I thought I was cool, so screw them. What did they know? Unfortunately, for a while, I still seemed to choose friends that weren't really nice to me or had my best interests at heart.

Once I figured that part out, I stopped getting close to people. I don't really know how to describe it, but I am really good friend when you're around, but I don't open up too much, and when we are separated, I don't make the effort to keep in touch. Sometimes I think that makes me a bad friend, but I don't think I'm a "bad" friend because I would be there in a heartbeat if I knew you were in trouble. I'm kind to animals, children and most other adults. I just still have that wall up, at all times. I would almost always rather be alone than with other people. And I still have that bitter streak that may always be with me.

I have lost friends over the years. Some of them would tell you that I'm a fucked up bitch that only cares about herself. That might be fair, I do take the time to give myself what I need because nobody else will. But I do care about others, and feel sick when I hear that I might have hurt someone. That being said, I don't have the time or inclination to deal with people who don't understand me or do things to be hurtful.

Why am I thinking about this now? I've been thinking a lot about why certain people seem to get ahead. My old boss? Completely fake and unethical. And yet everyone who hasn't had to deal with her closely loves her. She was dismissed from the job she had when she was my boss, but moved directly into another amazing opportunity that paid even more. I have been very lucky in the job arena lately, however, I have had trouble in my industry outside of my work. Trouble is maybe too strong of a word, but while I have relationships, I don't have strong relationships in my professional network. People will click recommend on LinkedIn, but would they actually reach out to hire me for a job? I truly think that my difficulty with relationships is the reason.

I have been involved with several groups of women on a personal level, but never really was totally integrated into the group. I'm not sure the reason, but it was mostly because I'm always on guard. I don't know how to fit in. I'm trying to get involved with a book club, and it would probably be easier if I actually wanted to go to the events, but I usually get home and I'd rather snuggle with my pups and watch a movie. I'm not sure how to correct this, or will I always be that homebody/wallflower/awkward child? I'm not sure.

I do know that I have a core group of women that I have been able to open up to, whether I know them IRL or just online, and I hope they know the content of my heart more than any outwardly awkwardness or seemingly selfishness vibe that I may give off. That's just my inner child coming out.