Saturday, February 19, 2011


You all know my new diet, spurred by joining the "Extreme Brickover Challenge" at my gym, officially began this week.  You all know that I've already committed a lot of planning to the 8-week program.  I created menus, made freezer-ready meals, and prepped dinners by chopping veggies ahead of time. 

"Is this not a lot of work?" you ask, and I can tell you are hoping that I am just a crazy, obsessive compulsive basket case with a penchant for spreadsheets.  You brush away my planning with the assured knowledge that when you choose to lose weight, you will simply begin eating less.  No planning needed.

Oh, dear reader, how I wish you were right.

But it is just not the case.  The reason I have so dreaded losing weight on purpose again is this (unfortunately crucial) planning stage.  And even with planning, I still tend to falter as the week goes on.  Sunday and Monday go better than planned, and I can't seem to find enough calories.  It is effortless.  Tuesday also goes well, though I have no trouble eating the allotted amounts.  Wednesday?  Not so good.  Thursday through Saturday tend to get lost in anonymity, as I lose the muster to enter the 7 cookies and 4 beers I had throughout the evening onto my spreadsheet.

This week was admittedly going ever so slightly better.  Until I cheated.  That's right, I cheated!! On Thursday I was hunkering down and feeling guilty for the two meals out and the "tall" beer special of Wednesday.  (Side note:  I got salads for both meals, thank you very much...only later did I realize that one salad was easily 700 calories).  I was not super hungry in the morning, but I figured this was due to the humungo salad (and beer and did I mention the crab pretzel appetizer?).  I ate my breakfast anyway, knowing I would only screw up the diet more by being ravenously hungry at 10:30am.

But 10:30am came and went, and my mid morning snack remained uneaten.  Lunch time also came and went, and it was just after 1pm that I felt pangs of pain in the stomach/intestinal region.  Just as I was putting my head in my hands and thinking about how I sort of felt really truly horrible, one of the electrical engineers asked if I had talked to the mechanical guy about something.  He said I should email, because mechanical guy is out sick - puking his guts out.**

Suddenly I remembered our landscape architect's "food poisoning" story from Monday. (She and her husband spent the day puking together on Valentine's Day - awww!)  This was when a light bulb flashed on over my head, and just for good measure, my body clearly indicated that I should maybe get up and shuffle quickly to the bathroom.

About 40 minutes later, I surprised my cat by being home.  At first, she was very excited to find that I would be spending my day cuddling with her on the couch.  However, I think the cat may have actually been worried about me later in the day when I was huddled in a fetal position on the bathroom tile.  Well, she may have just wondered about her eating situation since I was obviously in no hurry to refill her dish.

OK, so it wasn't super pleasant, but I am darn certain that I will have dropped a pound or two come the next weigh in.  I ate a total of 421 calories that day (excluding the negative calories, as that is just too difficult to calculate).  On Friday, I was still recovering, and not hungry at all.  This is a highly unusual and downright improbable case.  I have had severe colds, headaches, and hangovers, but never once lost my appetite during an episode of infirmity.  I did eat three meals, and have also done so today, but it is more because I know I should than actual desire.

The question is, which is better?  Eight weeks of planning and meticulous spreadsheet maintenance, along with hours of kitchen prep time?  Or one day of misery?

Still working on that on that one.

** How on earth the mechanical guy could email while encumbered with this illness, I know not.  I was barely able to turn on the television, and did so only in hopes that the sound would distract me from my misery.  I tuned to "Blue Planet" and set it to repeat.  It is a nature video which features soothing sounds such as ocean waves and whales and baby seals.  Did you know that baby seals are abandoned by their mothers shortly after birth?  Unable to move, they survive on their blubber for 18 weeks.  As I considered my resemblance to this predicament, tears began to well up in my eyes...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cleaning Out

When you plan to prep meals for eight weeks, you create quite a hefty grocery list.  I headed to the nearest store with my list in hand.

The nearest store is in a run down shopping center about five minutes from the house.  Apparently, the shopping center owners have wanted to tear down the store so they could build something more prominent and visible from a busy street corner for years.  But, when they bought the place, the old Acme had a lease, and they would not be swayed to break it.  Over time,  the owners have patiently waited out the lease.  They have done no repairs or maintenance on the old building, and the parking lot has potholes the size of a Volkswagen.  They remove only the bear minimum of snow, and the railings around the shopping cart return are rusting and bent.

However, the store itself seems to have a decent selection, and it is rarely crowded, even on Sunday.  Also, it is super close.  So I regularly navigate the gaping potholes and weave through the haphazard piles of snow to shop at the Acme.  (Inevitably, Adam tells me to buy a pair of rocket roller skates while I am there.)

I have never had trouble finding even the most gourmet of ingredients at the Acme.  But on Saturday, they were short on a few things:

Eerie, huh?  Everything left was 50% off, and it was interesting to see the remains.  In general, it was stuff you never think to buy at a grocery store.  The crappy DVD's of movies like "Look Who's Talking Too" were marked for 50% off of $1.50, and still I had no interest.  There were a ton of panty hose, about thirty cans of Raid, and Acme brand milk in a box.  (Like juice boxes - unrefrigerated, and to me, potentially nauseating with flavors like vanilla and strawberry.)  Beyond that there were bins of holiday junk, neatly separated into boxes labeled "Easter Stuff", "Halloween Stuff", and "Christmas Wreaths".

Next there were bags of sawdust used as bedding for your live-in rodent.  Lots of them.  (Bags - not rodents.  Hopefully.)

The freezer section and the dairy section were still semi-stocked.  I piled frozen manicotti and tortellini into my basket, but passed up the many varieties of Lean Pockets.  I do like Lean Pockets, but they are not part of my current diet goals.  Also, they would not fit into the basket because  I had already loaded the pasta and several tubs of reduced price Ben and Jerry's pints.  Ben and Jerry's claims Vanilla is their most popular flavor, but most of the poor, sad little pints remaining were Vanilla.  There was also "Cinnamon Bun" and "Cherry Garcia"  frozen yogurt that looked like it had been melted and re-frozen.  (Tasted like it too.)

Throw in a couple gallons of $2 milk and nine Rubbermaid containers, and I spent $47 before I went to the store.  For the record, the Ben and Jerry's Vanilla is pretty good, and I might buy Cinnamon Bun more often.

**Follow up advice:  Always check the dates when gallons of milk are sold for 50% off of $2.  I noted yesterday that my chocolate milk tasted "like they might have changed the recipe for Ovaltine".  This morning, it was downright nasty and was marked "Sell By 02-01-11".  I bought it on the 5th.  This would probably explain the raging gas I experienced all night...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Desperate Times

I can't seem to get back in to weight loss mode.  There have been several jump starts, but the engine of desire to be healthy is stifled by Klondike bars.  Regularly.  I make all sorts of excuses - like how we have to grill the hamburgers in the freezer because we have no power, and how I must order the burger and fry special because it is only $7 and it comes with a beer (!).

It is not for total lack of trying.  I had to attend a meeting with free pizza, and knowing I would be unable to eat fewer than three slices, I stopped on the way and paid for a healthy and delicious chicken salad.  I even ate my salad as my colleagues praised my willpower.  But, the meeting went on, and the smell of greasy, yummy, gooey pizza permeated the room.  The salad was long gone, and folks got up for a second slice.  At the end of the meeting, there was so much left!!   That's when I cracked, and literally inhaled a slice of pizza.  Seriously, I nearly choked on an olive.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The gym has been advertising an 8-week program called the "Extreme Brickover" for the low price of $39.99.  I am not totally sure what I signed up for, but sign up I did.  It looks like they will offer nutrition tips and help from personal trainers, and it features a weekly weigh in.  There are prizes for percentage of body weight lost and other mini-goals.  I will know more after my first official weigh in ofnSaturday.

Mostly, signing up has created an uncontrollable urge to stuff my face and drink mocha lattes with whipped cream - while there's still time!!  But last weekend, I began work on an eight-week eating plan, complete with my own pre-made meals.  Lots of work, yes, but hopefully my meals will be ready fast enough to prevent me from eating chips-with-salsa-and-a-peanut-butter-bread-chaser daily as my meal cooks.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Egg-str, Egg-stra, Read All About It

I was driving home from a party a few weeks ago.  It was 1am on a Saturday night, and not many cars were on the winding back roads leading to my abode.  The party was fun, but I was a bit eggsausted, as 1am is waaaay past my bedtime.  A white hatchback quite similar to my own, but an older model, came speeding eggstremely fast in the opposite direction and there was an audible thunk as it flew by.

"What the heck was that?" we thought.  Silently, I wondered if I had inadvertently drifted toward the center lane and smacked my rear view mirror on the passing car.  It didn't seem like it...but the thunk did seem to emanate from the vicinity of the mirror.

"Probably a rock flew up," said my intoxicated passenger.  This was possible, and rendered me blameless so I went with it, resolving to check for dents when I got home.

We arrived safely and soundly a few minutes later, and I looked at the car to see yellow liquid on the driver's side door.  Luckily no dents.  I figured some jerkface A-hole threw their soda and accidentally hit my car.  "What a jerkface A-hole," I said, and then went to bed, figuring I would to go to a car wash in the morning.

In the light, however, things looked a little different:

Someone threw an EGG at my car!  WTF and all that txtspk for profanity!  This made me wish I had turned around and gotten a license plate for that Jerkface! A-Hole!  With more Capitals!  And Eggsclamation points!!!!  And do you see that grayish mark on the side that you probably think is a smudge on your screen?

It's a chip in the paint:

Guess what?  It was eggspensive ($250!!) to get this fixed, and required me to wash my car in below freezing temperatures.  Plus, it really ticked me off.

Unfortunately, there is no real moral to this sad tale - other than "Don't throw eggs at people's cars", but I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you know that.  Still, it feels good to get it out there.  Thanks for reading!

Any stories about random jerkfaces in your lives?? Post 'em in the comments!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Roughing It

Hey man how's the weather?  I know there are folks out there, maybe even my beloved Constant Readers, who've had it worse.  I heard this morning that Oklahoma temperatures have reached -20 degrees (yes there's an intentional minus in there!).  My brother in New Jersey told me the city has been piling snow on the side streets, and each storm brings the piles closer to his own personal street.  I know flights have been canceled and states of emergency have been declared.  NONETHELESS, I will continue to complain.

After my three hour commute the other day, the power went out and we built a fire.  We lit some candles, fired up the kerosene lamps, and pretty much continued with what we were doing.  I got my book light so I could keep reading (Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhonda Janzen, which is pretty funny so far).  Adam was playing chess on his laptop and still had plenty of battery power left.  After a few hours, I got a blanket and pillow and decided to sleep in the living room.  We have a giant sectional that seats eight (or more!) and sleeps two to three.  So we both slept on the couch, with kitty in the corner between our heads.

I will pause here for you to say, "Awwww!"

I woke to silence at about 7am.  Still no power, and this meant no heat.  The fire was nearly extinguished so I stoked it up and looked out at the 12 inches of fresh snow on the road.  I called work to let them know I would be in whenever the plow came through and buried myself once again in my cozy nest.

Around noon, we decided the power had been out for a bit longer than usual.  You see, since moving to the middle of nowhere, we had become accustomed to the many outages.  BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric) is a contact on my cell phone. On January 27, I called the outage number because they usually give a time when we can expect power to be restored.  I figured it would be any minute now.

Electronic BGE man says, "Your power will be restored by" (switch to even more electronic voice) "January. Twenty. Nine. at. eleven-thirty. P.M."

Yikes.  We had to get more wood.

Thankfully, the power roared to life a mere eight hours later after I got back from the gym (and its shower!) on the 28th.  I had just shoveled out the grill and was about to fire it up.  If not for the house temperature of 57 degrees, I didn't mind losing power so much.  Out of shear curiosity, we got the Internet up and running, and we checked out the BGE Facebook page to see the extent of the damage and outages.

Most people left comments about how the power company workers should be safe and thanked them for braving the unplowed roads to work in below freezing temperatures.  Most of the rest of the people were humorously coping with their outage, saying things like, "I dare you to turn my power on by 11:30!"

But isn't it funny how we tend to hone in on the one negative idiot?  This woman posted several times, and I just have to share, especially in light of a recent post about Internet idiots over at Mission Improvisational:

(This chick is apparently not too proud to have her name out there on a public page, but I'm going to omit it.)

Explain n0t til sunday the i hav had n0 p0wer f0r 24 hr n0w n0 water and n0 heat and 3 kids and pets and ive cald n0t til sunday thats n0t fair

Prety hard t0 send pets away whn we cnt get 0ut 0f 0ur driue way n0 heat n00 water 3 children n0 p0wer f0r alm0st 24 hr they say sunday ths is abrured

‎15 hr stil n0 power and yes i caled it in and they told me to relocate h0w co we do that if we cnt make it 0ut our drive way and have pets tryn t0 b undstading but its exstreamly cold

U al suck hav 3 kids and hav pets that r guna die cause they ned heat s thks

A few people offered advice to beat the cold, tips on how to keep perishable food from perishing, and consolations that it is not as bad as she thinks (or thnks, if that's your fancy).  But this woman insisted on being dramatic.  Luckily her internet access phone was still working, because it really wouldn't be roughing it without an audience.


Keep warm, Constant Readers!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Three Hour Tour

Last week, we got about 3 inches of snow overnight.  Snow has never been a huge bother for me.  I shoveled out of the driveway and headed in to work at the usual time.  Unfortunately, the roads weren't really plowed yet and it was a wee wittle bit slippy.  But, I kept the speed to a sensible 20 miles an hour or so, and got to work in about an hour.  Took twice as long, but all was well.

More snow was expected for the night, and I heard reports of another 3 inches, maybe more.  No big whoop.  People at work were leaving at like 3:30, and there was no snow on the ground.  Whimpy, whimpy, whimpy.  I looked outside around 4:00 and wee wittle sprinkles had begun.  I decided to finish up on the project I had started, maybe go to the gym before heading home.

At 5:00 I walked outside to the parking lot.  Whoa.  There was already nearly an inch and it was snowing intently.  I decided to skip the gym.  Calmly, I started the car and began the trek homeward.  It was still a bit slippy, and I turned onto my normal road to traverse the first one lane bridge.  Shortly after this, all the cars in front of me stopped.  I waited patiently, unsure of what the problem was.  About five minutes later, we continued up the hill, but one car stayed off to the side for some reason.  Curious, I thought.

Slowly, carefully, I continued on my way.  The roads were terrible, but I did ok.  I looked at the clock and thought it would take another hour to get home.  Maybe more.

And then I passed a car stuck on a hill as it tried to maneuver in the opposite direction.  Shortly after that, I stopped in a line of cars as far as I could see, for an unknown reason.

I continued to sit there, unable to move in either direction, for 45 minutes.  There were now more like 5 inches of unplowed flakes on the ground, the car was covered and dark with snow (on one side), and I had moved about 50 feet only when those in front of me turned around.

Finally a fire department SUV arrived on the scene.  And got stuck behind three cars that were stuck.

At this point, I decided to take my chances in the other direction.  Like so many before me, I performed a three point turn in slippery conditions, and high tailed it out of there - carefully.  Luckily, the cars stuck in the opposite direction had unstuck themselves and I was able to make it back out to the light and turn south.  Slowly, I drove another half mile before I had to stop again.  On a bridge.  With cars as far as the eye could see in both directions.  Here I sat for 20 minutes.  And the snow continued to accumulate.

Finally, I began moving again on this road that was only sort of the right direction.  There were cars stuck everywhere.  I began to panic.  What if I got stuck?  What if I hit someone?  What if someone hit me?  My legs began to shake and I became short of breath as hour #2 of the trip came and went.

I had to pee so bad.

Finally, I encountered a plow!  Hurray! A big push-the-snow-out-of-the-way thingie! But wait a minute.  It was pushing snow into the way, right near a traffic light.  The light turned red, so I stopped in front of the snow pile, assuming the guy would move it out of the way between light cycles.  Three cars drove around me, in front of the plow, and through the red light.  OK, A-holes aside, now lets get with the snow moving, I mentally thought at the snow plow dude.  Even better, pull out in front of me and clear a path for me to follow.  Unfortunately, mind channeling requires two minds.  And the plow driver was apparently a few cards short of a deck.  He pushed more snow into my path, which seriously increased my blood pressure.

The light turned green and plow was still in the way.  And then he turned towards my path.  Yippee!  As long as I could charge over the snow mound, I could follow this beacon home!  Mind channeling does work!

And then he backed up.

All right buddy, that's it.  I guess the A-holes (though still A-holes) knew what they were doing.  I pushed through the pile of snow and eased around the plow.  The rest of the trip, though terrifying, was thankfully devoid (mostly) of other vehicles.  I was panic stricken, and unable to determine if the tears were due to the intense fear or the overwhelming desire to find a potty or squat in the snow.

At this point, I had decided the goal to get home was a tad over-zealous. I revised my goal to get as close to home as possible, preferably within walking distance.  I passed many cars and very stupid pedestrians walking in black clothing in the middle of unplowed lanes.

I encountered two more plows - one in the way again, and the other frustratingly with a landscaping logo on its side and its plow up.  Put it down, man! I yelled.

At least I was able to follow his tracks.

I got home at 8:25, just a bit over three hours after leaving work. There was just enough time to make and eat some pasta before the power went out.  For the next 22 hours.