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I haven't really spelled out what I'm doing on Facebook or Livejournal, but here's a quick synopsis:

A week and a half ago I walked into the book store looking for a tiny daily planner to track food and whatnot for my work's Biggest Loser competition.  I didn't find it, but I did spy Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet.  I don't really buy into all the grrrrrl power she advertises, nor have I started calling my body my "god pod," but seeing as she stopped her cancer from growing just by changing her diet, I figure there's something to all of that.  And if more energy and a better mood, and a smaller waistline come along with that, then I really can't complain!

So, a week ago Bob and I started it.  Day One wasn't so bad.. we were home and we choked down our juice, made faces, and happily ate our salads and quinoa.  Day Two was HORRIBLE.  That was Monday -- we were both at work, passing out, headachey, grouchy, etc.  There was a two hour period in the morning that I was afraid if someone came to spoke to me, I wouldn't know how to respond.  After work we still ran, though, a new track and everything.  Day Three was better, aside from the headache I came home with.  And then, after that?  It all cleared.  My energy levels spiked, I found myself smiling more, the scale started dropping and my clothes started fitting better again!  My tastebuds woke back up and I found myself not only enjoying my morning "green juice" but looking forward to it like I would coffee (okay, let's not lie.. it'll never replace coffee, especially the french pressed kind, but it's refreshing!).  

There are things about this cleanse that I'd like to take with me past the 21 days.  Like the lack of meat.  Turns out, I just don't care about meat.  I didn't care much about it prior to the cleanse, and I certainly don't miss it now.  I don't think that's any big diet secret or anything -- meat is not my weakness so it's pretty easy to give up.  I'm going to give up liver and onions, too.  And jabbing myself in the eye with a pen.  

But bread.. glorious bread.  See, the cleanse is gluten free.  This is keeping me off of bread products for twenty-one days.  That is my real love.  Beautiful pasta and bread and cupcakes.. and so on.  Now I know, there's gluten-free things.  But I figured it would just be best to avoid most of it for the duration.  Besides, the idea is to eat 80 percent raw and fresh, and 20 percent cooked.  That doesn't leave a lot of room for gluten-free things (except quinoa, which Bob and I have a growing love affair with).

And then there's the running!  We're holding steady at 3.5 miles this month, I believe.  Working more towards endurance and running it all without stopping and less towards adding more distance.  The distance training portion comes back around second week of March.  I'm excited!  And scared!  The voice in my head that tells me I'm a silly goose for trying anything physical is quieter these days (probably because I'm starving it on this Vegan diet.  Said voice prefers hamburgers).  

I think the biggest thing to come out in this first month of changes is the idea that I can be a different person and try different things if I want to.  I don't need to fit into someone's version of me.  Perhaps I'll be a vegan runner all the way to the half-marathon and then my brain will switch and I'll hunger for beef again.  Who knows!  The best part is, I reserve the right to change every time the wind blows if I so choose.

I know that's a realization usually pronounced on an eleventh grader's live journal, but even as I near thirty I still find myself doing things because my family or friends expect me to.  You know what?  I actually LIKE onions.  And maybe I'm the least athletic person you know and can't catch a ball to save my life, but I can run in a straight line.  And it might take me the entire allotted time to finish, but I'm going to!  And in the end, I think that's what counts.

The promises of a new year.

It's the seventh!  I imagine many of you made your resolutions prior to the New Year, drank and ate to excess on the Eve, and then threw yourself into high gear on the 1st to get these resolutions going.  Not me.  I mean, I did the first part -- the excessive eating and drinking, the ignoring my novel, the letting the laundry lapse.  All that good stuff.  And then I continued to do it all through the first week of the New Year.  To be perfectly fair, though, my year doesn't really end until my dear Australian friend returns home.  That drive home from the airport marks that closure.

But, he went home on the 2nd, so for the last four days I've done nothing to put any change into effect.  I told myself it's because I really didn't know what I wanted to accomplish in these coming days.  And then I'd stress myself out analyzing all the options and start to wonder what people in other cultures do, because I think Americans seem to be obsessively focused on goals and achievements.  Maybe a good one would be to learn how to relax and stop making every day one of accomplishment. 

I am awfully fond of my To-Do Lists, though.

So, speaking of lists: here are my goals for the new year, seven days late but better than 364 days after the fact!

1.  Read.  I read probably 20 books last year.  One for each month of our book club at work, a couple from another book club I was in, and probably three or four on my own.  Which, after doing the math, is more than I thought I'd picked up last year.  So, my initial goal of 50 felt a little high, but the new goal of 25 now feels too low.  So, let's ignore the numbers and just focus on the action: read more.  It really isn't that hard!  Plus, my husband gifted me a Kindle for Christmas, so now there is no bulky hardcover to haul around.  I will say this, though, for this category: This is the year we're reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, self.  You've had that book on your shelf for years and look at it fondly, but you never get past the third chapter.  THIS IS THE YEAR.

Also, I have a tiny book club with two friends and reading is something we can be doing together, despite the distance.  :)

2.  40 pounds.  This is a number I am focusing on.  "Lose weight" is too vague for me.  I suppose I managed last year, ending the year with a net loss of roughly 25 pounds.  I gained back some during the holidays, enough to make some of my new favorite shirts not fit as nicely, but I have a plan in place.  At work we've started a "Biggest Loser."  There are no crazy challenges or teams or anything.  It's basically weighing in and then, at the end of 12 weeks, there's a cash prize.  Ta-da.  We do our first weigh-in this coming Monday, so I'm eager to go down this road and win some money.  ;)  Or lose some pounds.  Either way, I've won.

In this one, I'm throwing in the half-marathon we're running at work.  Training started on Tuesday and I'm woefully slow, but I did go to the doctor and get my hip checked out so I think I'm good to go there.  I'm terrified of doing this, but maybe it's a good thing to be scared once in a while.

3.  The novel.  Ah, you thought I'd forgotten about this, didn't you?  I let it rest in December, even though I wanted so badly to take my red pen to it right away.  There's a class midway through this month that deals with editing first drafts and turning them into polished copies.  I'll be taking it, whether I win the raffle and get the class for free (we find out Monday!), or I use Christmas money to enroll myself.  Also, it's exciting to note that I thought after I had this written I'd never have another idea for a full novel.. but then yesterday, there I was, minding my own business when it popped into my head!  So, I'm set for this coming November as well.  

4.  Garden.  We're uprooting this year and moving, but that doesn't mean I won't have a garden full of fresh vegetables.  And, if not from the garden, there's still the Farmer's Market.  I do love Saturday mornings, but I've found I love them more when I've gotten up and done something before 9 AM.  I want to continue living organically and make strides even further in that direction.

5.  Volunteer.  I know I'm a busy person, but I'm busy for me.  All the goals are very me-centric.  I'd like to give back to the community in some way.  This year I will be trying my hand at volunteering at our local hospice.  I got my paperwork finished before Christmas and have training in February.  It's not really something to look forward to, considering the situation, and I'll admit I'm scared.  It just feels like something I need to follow through on, since seeing the bill posted at Starbucks.  

And that's that.  I will be doing other things throughout the year -- mostly advancing my knitting, if only because it keeps my hands busy and me feeling a little more productive if we have the television on, but that isn't really a goal.  If I can knit more than a simple scarf by year's end, then great!  If not, that's okay, too.  I wanted to set a goal to write on here more often, but I'm not sure that's important, either.  

I'll also be getting rid of things.  Stripping my life down to essentials and not keeping things for 20 years out of guilt.  It's essential for the move and it's probably time.  But this isn't really a resolution since I've been moving towards that since November, and there's really no goal.  I won't be the person with just a backpack and a laptop, but I don't need to be the person with boxes and boxes of high school mementos.

As long as I end this year at least as physically and emotionally happy as I am now, whether I've read 100 books or grown a prize winning cucumber, I'll consider it a success.  

Good luck on your resolutions!

NaNoWriMo 2010

My intention during November was to give a weekly update on my word count and experiences during the month long novel writing extravaganza.  But, after the second week, all I could think was: "If I write in Livejournal, am I wasting words?  I could be applying words to my novel.  Word count.  WORD COUNT."

So, I stopped thinking about updating Livejournal.  Then, somewhere in the middle, I stopped trying to meet my daily word count quota.  In fact, aside from the final two days of NaNoWriMo and one random day, I never hit my word count quota. 

I tried Write or Die, which I found to be intimidating and creepy after prolonged use.  I tried working in coffee shops, which (combined with little to no exercise), contributed to a five pound weight gain this month.  I completely lifted the ban on coffee and drank it by the gallon (and haven't resumed the no-caffeine rule yet and it's December 8th.. ho ho ho!).  I spent my lunches furiously pounding away at my story while hoping no one snuck up behind me to read over my shoulder.  I dodged questions about plot and characters from real people, all the while allowing imaginary folks to prance around in every waking thought. 

And, in the end, it came down to two days of endless staring at a computer screen for me to finish the 50,000 words.  In fact, had I not been sick, this story might have had quite the opposite (and woeful) ending.  

All that aside, I finished.  I actually finished a writing project.  Start to finish.  Beginning to end.  Prologue to epilogue.   I'm twenty-eight years old and the only stories I ever finished were short ones for a creative writing class in college.  So, December 1st was a shining moment in my tiny writing history.

And now it's the 8th and I already feel like that challenge was so, so long ago.  I know if I want to do anything with it, it's going to need a large amount of work.  Draft after draft and an entire box of red correction pens.  I love parts about it and hate others, but mostly I love that it's all together for the first time, instead of just circling my head.  

Thank you to those of you who asked me, every day, about my word count or the flow of the story.  Thank you to my coworkers who didn't guilt trip me too badly about not attending lunches with them.  Thank you to friends and family who greeted each announcement and mini-accomplishment with big smiles and enthusiasm.  And thank you to my husband, who started on the road with me, taking my hand, puling gently, and assured me that it was all going to be okay. 

Maybe I never get published and this is all I get as far as a dedications page.

Then again, maybe I do.  See you in hardback, friends.

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According to my Facebook page, 2010 was The Year of the Novel.  For nine months I did very little work on said novel.  Instead, 2010 became The Year of the Garden, The Year of Eating Better, The Year of Learning to Love Exercise, The Year of Giving Up Coffee and Then Starting It Up Again Slowly Because I Need It Dammit, The Year of Improving My Credit, The Year of Doctor's Appointments and Various Pills That Made Me Cry and Bleed, The Year of Knitting, The Year of Forgiveness, and, as always, of Friendships and Love.

Now it's November, and I am smack dab right in the middle beginning of my NaNoWriMo attempt (my very first, despite being signed up on the website since 2007).  Yesterday I was invited up to Corona to the home of one of the writers I met at the NaNoWriMo Kick Off Party in Riverside last Saturday.  They had planned a sixteen hour day, starting at 7 AM, where they would write, stretch, eat, and then write some more.  The woman's husband happily went to bring all of us snacks and meals, all while taking care of their three kids for the entire day.  It was beautiful!  I was so glad to get out of the house to write because I know if I was in here chores, television, naps and random cooking projects would have probably sucked up my day.  Instead, I got 4,000 words down.  I'm still behind where I should be on the 7th of the month, but today is Sunday and there is ground to be made!

I feel like I can't talk about the subject.  I know it's a really bad sign if someone asks, "Hey, what are you writing?" and all they get in reply is a few blinks and a shrug.  I know what I'm writing but I feel like if I say it out loud or try to explain it, it's going to lose it's magic.  I'm not ready for input.  In fact, despite agreeing to share it with a few people after I'm finished, I'm ready to backpedal on that promise, too. 

Getting back into writing has been difficult.  I've decided I am a reactionary writer, after years and years of doing just that with wordsdiminish .  Give me a prompt and I will write a one or two character response, with actions, in the matter of minutes.  No problem.  Give me an entire world where a character's every move does not warrant four or five paragraphs about his hair and exact thoughts, and I'm floundering.  I edit while I write.  I know that November's exercise is to write, write, write without even a thought to the red pen, but I'm already itching to scrap the first 2,000 words and start again.  The preface is all wrong.  Wrong characters, wrong scene, and the fact that it's a preface is all wrong, too, because I didn't even want one of those.  

But!  The point is to get the words down.  So I'm leaving it for now; ignoring it there at the top of the word document.  It can mock me all it wants, for now.  Just be warned, Preface, I will be back with my mighty backspace key when this is all over, and you will be nothing but empty space.  

My count for the week is 6,009.  If you're on NaNoWriMo, please be my writing buddy!  And if you're up in the Temecula/Murrieta area, I'd love to have a friendly face to take to next Saturday's Write-In in Old Town Temecula.

Also, let it be known, I am taking my coffee pot out for the first time in a year.  My writing brain likes caffeine, and if that's what it takes.. well, then, that's what it takes!  Bring on the creamer!

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Summary - Week 6

I'm a day late in posting this because I was hoping there would be better stats to report. Turns out a week of fluctuation has left me right back where I was last week. As much as I love to watch numbers drop, I loathe to watch them rise and that brings me to this resolution: weighing only once a week. I shouldn't start my morning grimacing and peeking through my fingers at a bathroom scale. It's not a happy way to start it. Besides, I spend more time rearranging the scale on the tile in hopes that a slightly different position will yield a more favorable number. No one should weigh themselves as obsessively as I have been for the last six weeks.

So, I mean it. Scale on Sunday mornings. And that's final.

This was not a week of "tremendous failure," though (See: Week 4). I have spent some time wandering Baron's Marketplace solo in hopes of finding new foods to try. Friday night I picked up some radishes (they are just so darn cute!), eggplant (so darn purple!), and bean sprouts (so darn.. sprout.. y..). The radishes have a faint pepper taste that I enjoy, as well as a satisfying crunch that hugs my teeth a little. I like that. Half the eggplant fell victim to an unsatisfying stir-fry. The pieces that didn't sponge-up the olive oil were tasty, but the others felt like big juicy.. gross. I've learned my lesson and will cook them separately in the future. I looked for recipes before I tackled the eggplant, but most things wanted mounds of cheese. The bean sprouts were the clear winner this week. They're so refreshing raw!

I'm not one-hundred percent sure what I'll pick up this week, but I was eying the red-leaf lettuce at Baron's today and remembering a friend at work singing it's praises not too long ago. Alas, more romaine for us this week. I used to think, how could I ever get sick of romaine lettuce? It's just lettuce! And here I am, pining for spinach. What a strange creature I've become.

In the not-as-healthy-but-still-better-than-say-cake-and-ice-cream food discoveries, I'm now in love with falafal. It's amazing. I had it at a wrap at Daphne's, with purple onions, iceberg lettuce and hummus and it was delicious! We went right back the second day and I had it again, this time with spanakopita, too. Then, recognizing that, despite this all being meatless it was still fried, I didn't go back to Daphne's for the remainder of my meals over the weekend. But it was hard. Believe me.

. . .

Currently, my head is swirling with projects. I have three books I'm reading at once, a novel of my own to be pounding out, home-organization plans, gardening ideas. It just all keeps coming. I think I should set some goals for each of these things and work on them one at a time. Devote March to the spring cleaning and April to the garden. Or something.

I've borrowed The Happiness Project from Kathy and already I've picked something up that made a lot of sense to me.  Gretchen Rubin says, "One of my goals for the happiness project was to prepare for adversity -- to develop the self-discipline and the mental habits to deal with a bad thing when it happened.  The time to start exercising, stop nagging, and organize our digital photos was when everything was going smoothly.  I didn't want to wait for a crisis to remake my life."  While I'm not looking to the future as waiting for a crisis, there are big plans ahead for Bob and myself and why wait until we're balancing a family to get some of these things done? 

One of the big things I would like to work back into my routine is exercise.  I've been doing a lot of work on what goes into my body but no work on using my body for more than pushing some papers around a desk.  Bob and I used to get up at 3:45 every morning to hit the gym before I had to go to work.  Now he's on his way out the door at the time, I'm still asleep, and our gym membership has long been canceled. For now, we're finding ways to get exercise around the house.  Sebastian gets one or two walks a day (depending on whether I'm working at my brother's or not) and there is a nice, steep hill near the end of our two-mile walk.  That's all fine and good for my legs, but my upper-body is suffering.  The tools are downstairs.  The Wii-Active worked before and it can certainly work again, if I'd just make the time for it. 

But now I have the time!  Bob leaves early and there's no reason I should stay in bed when he goes.  I can get up, exercise and start my day off right.  I peeked ahead in The Happiness Project and one of the first things she works on is exercise.  It can improve moods and keep one energized throughout the day.  I'd like to get that energy back.  

. . .

Goals for this week:

Exercise in the mornings.
Stay on plan, as usual.
Find another new vegetable or fruit to try!
Write just 500 words on The Project.

Food Combining: Week 5

It's hard for me to believe we've only been doing this a month. Every meal's choices come naturally now. I do like knowing well ahead of time when I'm going to a restaurant, though, so I can plan my meal accordingly from their website's menu. Take Friday night for example: We went to Lucille's BBQ, ate warm biscuits with apple-butter, giant salads, and even a little banana pudding and I still lost weight the next day!

Which brings me to this week's stats. All good ones:

Loss for the week: 3.3 lbs.
Overall Loss: 15.7 lbs.

At first, the weight loss was a lot more drastic. Six pounds in the first week. I know it's foolish to want that to continue, seeing as quick loss isn't good for our bodies and isn't likely to stay, etc, etc.. but I won't lie and say I didn't do some weight-math based on six pounds a week. Three is much more acceptable.

The current weight-math puts me at hitting somewhere near my goal in June. June! That really isn't that far away! I'm open to all kinds of factors, like, the less there is to get rid of the longer it takes. But setting goals helps me keep myself in line.

I'm having trouble seeing a lot of difference in myself. I know my old jeans are ridiculous and need to be retired now (though, Bob did suggest I keep them to be future-pregnancy jeans). Maybe when I hit the 20 pound mark things will be more obvious. Bob has gone beyond 20 pounds lost since we started. I'm not sure where he is exactly, except that he's the lowest he's been in his adult life! And what a difference! His persistence and willingness to do this with me is loads of help. As is the support I get from friends at work and from talking about it with my mother.

I feel as though my eyes have been opened to what I'd been doing to my body all these years. And to what I've been missing! Kiwi and red pears? Delicious! And much more satisfying than any Twix bar.

. . .

In news that does not involve my waistline: I wrote! And not only that, I can feel my brain shifting its focus on plot and characters again. I used to walk around in a fog of narration, but when I started working a 9-to-5 it faded all but completely. But Friday, on my way to dinner, I found myself quickly scribbling notes on scrap papers while I waited at a red light. That part of my brain is waking from it's long, restful hibernation and I couldn't be more excited.

I'm working on a second creative project this month, too. Bob and I will be writing and hosting a murder mystery dinner mid-April for my coworkers. We'll be writing the mystery ourselves, as well as preparing dinner and dressing up our downstairs to fit the theme of the party. I'm so excited!

. . .

On Thursday, Bob had an interview for a job at Sony down in Mira Mesa.. and he got the job! It sounds like he's starting on Tuesday. He will work from 5 am to 2 pm four days during the week and 9 am to 10 pm on one weekend. It will be weird not having him both days on the weekend, but I think some alone time in the house will be good for me. I have some organization projects forming in my head, as well as being able to take entire guilt-free days to write.

Things are looking up! :)

Food Combining: Week 4

I feel like I should make a quick list here just to point out why last week simply did not work. In fact, we could even go as far as to call it a "tremendous failure."

It started with Valentine's Day dinner, which resulted in left overs for the beginning of that week. Potatoes with far too much butter, cream cheese and half and half. While delicious, they probably did nothing to help the week. However, I can't blame that dinner for the entire week.

Tuesday we were taken to El Torrito by a vendor. I had a salad that I thought I did well with, but it turns out simply pretending there isn't cheese on a salad isn't the equivalent of requesting it to not show up.

Wednesday night we had friends over and ate delicious, delicious food. Bob and Kim ensured I had salmon instead of steak to eat, and I completely ignored the gorgeous loaf of sliced french bread on the table, but that did not stop me from having creme brule for dessert. Nor did it stop me from having the left over creme brule for dessert the following evening.

Saturday we had Kathy and Ben over. I should have stopped at the chicken, but then there was delicious beer bread and then lemon cake trifle. Sigh.

Sunday? Burgers at my brother's to celebrate JR's birthday. Then two slices of cake (I had to taste both!). Small triumph here, though, I didn't get anywhere near the chip/snack table except to snag a single carrot and piece of celery.

So. I did breakfast right all week, but my dinners were not optimal. So I should be happy that I *only* gained 1.8 pounds over the entire week. Oh well. We're going into the second month, week five, with 12.4 pounds still gone.

I've learned to love adding sprouts to my salad and have developed a fierce passion for red pears and kiwi. Who knows what I'll get to try this week. ;D

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Food Combining: Week 3

I'm nearing my the end of my third week of food combining. There was a glitch in week two and part of week three that Bob discovered. See, the book says you may start your day off with fresh fruit or fruit juice (or both), so I was doing both. Mom brought over her juicer and we were making delicious orange juice every morning. Turns out, the juice of four to five oranges every morning, plus other fruit to get me through the day until noon is way, way too much sugar for my PCOS body. All it did was maintain my weight for a week and a half. Frustrating!

I've ditched the juice and gone back to eating just whole pieces of fruit and it seems to be working again!

As of this morning my total loss is 14.2. :)

I feel fantastic! I'm not counting points, I'm not obsessing over calories, and I'm getting more nutrients from my food than I have since my parents stopped spooning baby food into my mouth. Obviously, some of the lessons from Weight Watchers are still there, as far as how big a portion is and the evils of salt. And I've picked up on other things along the way, thanks to Fast Food Nation and The China Study.

So now, to just get through Valentine's Day. I'm cooking a meal that isn't on plan, but should be delicious and a well deserved celebratory treat for both Bob and myself. :)

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On writing and dieting.

The week really ends on Monday, but I'm sitting alone downstairs, listening to raindrops smack the pavement, and it makes me reflective. This entire week I stuck to the plan - juice and fruit all morning and trading off between proteins and carbs to match with my vegetables. Bob and I nearly had a sweets breakdown last night (the idea of red velvet cake was SO tempting), but we worked through it and when I stepped on the scale this morning it appears to all have been worth it. So, finally, after a week of little to no movement on the scale, I dropped another pound. I would like to have a running total, but there's a disconnect between what the Weight Watchers scale and my personal scale read. Either way, I'm eating better than I ever have in my life and that has to count for something.

My mother brought over a juicer she's had for years but only used once. We're still experimenting to see what's delicious in the juicer, but I'm really excited. Bob has a coworker who lives on a farm that has twenty orange trees on it, among other tasty treats. Already she's brought us in a huge bag of oranges and avocados. With this produce hook-up we can put this juicer to good use!

Our exercise is still walking two miles a day. I started the Wii Active again last week and then sort of fell short. I've been restless lately. Lacking focus. When faced with any amount of free time I sort of panic about using its full potential and end up doing something that accomplishes very little.

And speaking of accomplishing very little, that's how I feel about my January as far as writing goes. I'd like to take a page from Kathy's book and focus on what I did accomplish. So here goes:

1. I've switched my music. I used to love letting my mind wander to plot and characters while I drove anyway. I have about 15 minutes each way to work every day that I could be using to make my characters really breathe but instead I've been listening to the 91X morning show and then, on the way home, a bunch of music that I've probably already heard at work. I needed to get back to music that inspires me. I used to create soundtracks for scenes I could see in my head and yesterday I finally rediscovered that.

2. I've made a few notes. I think my trouble is I can't decide what story I want to write. There's a long, involved story that I've half-penned with Kim that really is itching to get out there. I think it's a good story. I think if Twilight can get published, certainly our story is more interesting. I'm afraid of it though, because I don't know where to start. Yet, I feel like, if I just got it moving in a direction, any direction, perhaps things would come together and we'd actually do something with it.

Then there's a character I created to write with her that I simply adore and who I never had a chance to explore. I'd like to take this person and write his story.

And then there's a third story that's more of an element than a theme. Something I'm honestly afraid to adventure into, but sometimes those can be the best.

So. At least in January I focused my ideas down to three. Made a few notes on one. Switched my music to something more inspiring. I think that's a good start into the year.

Now to make something of February.

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