Monday, December 31, 2012

Good-bye 2012

I'm not one to condemn an entire year to the dustbin but every once in a while I have a bad one that I'd rather forget. My last really bad year was in 1983 and it was the year that led me to vow never to make New Year's Resolutions ever again but fix what was wrong with my life as soon as I figured it out.

Unfortunately, I knew what was wrong with 2012 before it even happened but there was nothing I could do to fix it.

Basically, I'm going to consider 2012 a "no op" as they say in the computer biz. (Or at least we used to say that back in the days of Assembly programming.) It's the year that never was because nothing really happened.

It was the year of no racing, no working out, no benefits with my job...

Monday, December 24, 2012

I blew up like Aunt Marge

Have you ever had one of those nightmares where you need to get something done, but you can't? When I have them, often every time I try to do something, I fall into water. That probably means something, but I have idea what.

I don't always fall into water, though. Sometimes I have a dream where nothing I own fits me. I try on something and it doesn't fit so I try on something bigger and it doesn't fit either. I go through item after item in my closet and no matter what size is on the tag, it doesn't fit.

The other day I had this nightmare only I was awake.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Inspiration big and small

On Friday, I attended a concert that was also a fundraiser for the Oakland Children's Hospital that was put on by the Peter Pan Foundation. The founder of the organization, Leslie Noel, was motivated to start it when one of the young actors that she mentored died in a car accident the week before he was going off to college. She talked a bit about helping kids reach their dreams and Stefan's parents talked about how thrilled he would be to know he had inspired such generosity among so many people.

I think it would be nice to be able to inspire that sort of change in the world, but I think most of us won't ever be in a position to do so. I know I've inspired people to do triathlons and take up running and some of them have found a new hobby while others have moved on to other pursuits but continue to stay active. That was, and continues to be, a goal of mine so it's very gratifying to see.

But sometimes you can inspire people when you aren't even trying. It seems that a young girl I've never met, whose mother I work with, liked the cake pops I baked so much that she decided to make her own. She's only ten and her mom doesn't bake so she did it all herself by watching videos on YouTube and getting her mom to buy her a cake pop maker.

It's a little thing, but it shows that people do watch us all the time and anything we can do can be inspiring even if we don't change the world on a grand scale. It's also something I think about whenever I'm about to indulge in less than optimal behavior, particularly bad eating habits, because I know my kids are watching even if it doesn't seem like they are.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Running and writing every day

I decided after NaNoWriMo to write every day. I had been doing a pretty good job of it too. But this week has been crazy. In fact, this month has been crazy but it culminated this week in absolute craziness both at home, with my volunteer efforts, and at work. I did work on my book for about 15 min. on Sunday but that's been about it.

As for running, I was planning to do that every day starting in January. But I am still not headache free. I had a big breakthrough a few weeks ago where I just felt better somehow and my appetite decreased too. But I can't really start running because I still get headaches.

I know, I know. I said after a year I'd just start working out anyway. Obviously I've reconsidered. I also can't go to the doctor until I get another referral. At least I got my PCP thing straightened out so now I can actually get the referral.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Exercise as a fountain of youth

One of the reasons I got weight loss surgery is that, as I got older, I started to get creakier. At first I considered that this was just the price of getting older and there was nothing I could do about it. But then I started to wonder if losing weight would help. My doctor said yes so I added it to the Pro list.

And it did help. I got rid of my lower back pain, my stiffness in the morning and a few other things.

But, it turns out that all the exercising I did had some impact as well. I believe this because, as I've not been able to exercise, some of my creakiness has come back as has some of the lower back pain.

So I decided to look it up and see if my experience was unusual or if I was on to something.

What I found out is that it turns out that exercise can combat a lot of the things we just assume have to happen as we get older including memory loss, gaining weight and losing muscle.

There was this one study where they compared the muscles of a 34 year old triathlete, a 74 year old guy who didn't exercise and a 74 year old triathlete. As expected, the 74 year old who didn't exercise had really wasted muscles. But the 74 year old's muscles looked just like the 34 year olds! Now that I did not expect. I expected them to be better than the non-exerciser but not just as good as a 34 year old.

There are other studies that show that introducing exercise to the elderly can increase their muscle mass, balance and flexibility almost as much as what is typically lost each decade.

By the way, Dr Alicia Arbaje, assistant professor of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins University agrees with me, at least according to WebMD.

As do some other studies.


Oh and exercise is a better predictor of health in the elderly than diet.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Truth in Labeling

I am big on knowing what is in my food. This doesn't mean that I never eat junk. But when I do, I want it to be a conscious choice, not an accident. Unfortunately, many food companies engage in deceptive practices that make it very easy to get fooled if you don't read the labels and, even if you do study the labels, it can still be hard to know what you are eating.

This video talks about some of those issues and more and is well-worth watching:

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Muffin Top - It happens

You know how you see those women (and sometimes men) out in public and they're kind of falling out of their clothes and you wonder "what were they thinking?"

Well, now I know.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why I hate the 5 Day Pouch Test

In Weight Loss Surgery circles, there is this thing called "The Five-Day Pouch Test". I hate it.

What it claims to be is a way to "reset" your pouch and get you back on track. What it actually is is a crash diet with a fancy name.

Now, whenever I say this online, I get a lot of flack. The first saying "it is not a crash diet!' To which I say:

Oh really? If a friend came to you and said, "I've found this great diet. You consume nothing but liquids for two days, then soft proteins for a day, then firmer proteins, then the last day you do hard proteins."

Would you think that sounds like a well-balanced diet or some sort of gimmick? To me, it's a gimmick and not a healthy one.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Learning to let go

When I was a kid, I had a very definite idea of how things should be and I got very upset whenever things went differently from how I thought they should go in my head. It would particularly upset me if I thought people were behaving poorly.

Even as an adult, I have had this tendency. I remember being at some sort of bridal shower back in the 80s and we played some sort of stealing game with prizes and this mother and daughter duo conspired to steal all the good presents between them. I was incensed! The fair thing to do would be to make sure the prizes got spread out as much as possible. It really took away my enjoyment.

This year I have participated in two White Elephants, a party game that also involves stealing presents. In both of them, I chose to open a present rather than steal one most of the time and in both of them I opened some pretty great presents that got stolen and ended up with some pretty "meh" ones. Not only that, but in one of them someone broke the rules.

And I really didn't care and, not only that, I had a great time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Taking a look back - beginnings of the blog

I've been going over my old blog posts to turn them into Chapters in my book and it's been very interesting.

The first thing I noticed is that my very first blog post had several typos in it. In the first six months of blog posts, I've seen typos and misspellings in almost every post. Here I thought I was being so careful and doing a good job proof-reading. Apparently it's not just my memory that's suspect. How embarrassing!

Second, it makes me squirm a bit, to see some of the stupid things I wrote. I'm reading blog posts about how I have to give up carbonated beverages forever and it's amusing because of course now I know that this advice is questionable. I've had no issues with champagne the few times I've had it but beer and sparkling cider still bother me. Diet soda goes either way but it tastes too chemically to me now to want to drink it, bubbles or no.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Getting Sick == Losing Weight

Remember that scene from The Devil Loves Prada where Ann Hathaway's character gets complemented for looking thin and follows it up with I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight." Because apparently when she gets sick, she loses weight.

Raise your hand if that happens to you.

<crickets>

Yeah, me neither.

Until this year.

Random thoughts on addiction

I have a friend who is trying to quit smoking right now and having a hard time of it and, for my book, I wrote about my own mother-in-law dying from lung cancer as a result of smoking. This has got me thinking. I look at our attitudes towards addiction and realize that addiction and obesity have a lot in common, both in how the person dealing with them experiences it and how outsiders view it.

I know that at times I have been judgmental towards smokers. “Why don’t they just quit?” I think to myself.

“Um, why don’t you just push yourself away from the table?” I’m sure some of them would have fired back.

“It’s not the same!”

But is that true?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My CSI Tweezers - Kickass Defined

I bought a hair trimmer the other day, the Philips Precision Perfect Trimmer, and it came with these elaborate tweezers. I didn't really need another pair of tweezers, but the other choices without tweezers actually cost more and weren't as nice.

When I got home, I found out they weren't regular tweezers, but had a built-in light. I was shocked at how much difference having a light means.

It was just like on CSI when they shine a light on the carpet and they see a hair that you couldn't see without the flashlight! I could see so many more hairs even though I have a high-powered make-up mirror with a built-in light and a magnifier side. The CSI tweezers make my expensive make-up mirror look sick.

On the show, I thought they worked in a dark room with flashlights to look cool. But the flashlight works better the darker the room is. So TV got something right for once.

The holder has a mirror in it for hair tweezing on the go. Because we all tweeze our facial hair on the go, right? Yeah, I don't use that part. I just use my make-up mirror and grumble that it doesn't work as well as these cheaper tweezers. Oh and that the magnification makes my nose look weird.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Experiencing hunger

Hunger is a funny thing because so much of it is mental.

Yesterday I was in San Francisco for a party. An awesome party that I had a great time at. But this party had no food. There was drink - beer, wine, soda and water - but nothing solid. I knew this before I arrived and I knew I should have eaten a good dinner before leaving the house, but I've been experiencing food apathy lately and I just didn't feel like eating. I made myself eat two cheese sticks before I left so I wouldn't be starving at the party, but I couldn't make myself eat more.

When I got to the party, I proceeded to enjoy myself. During the course of the evening, I consumed two 1 liter bottles of water and a Diet 7Up when I got sick of water. Then, the party was over so I went home.

I am someone for whom thirst and hunger signals often get confused. This means I eat when I'm thirsty which is not good, but it also means I can sometimes get rid of hunger signals by drinking which can be good. It was good last night because there wasn't food.

Unfortunately, I forgot to use the facilities before I left the party and now I was sitting in the 16th and Mission BART station after having downed 46 oz. of liquid during a 3 hour period having to pee.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Losing yourself a little at a time

One of the things that struck me as I worked on my book was how I had managed to lose large parts of myself without even realizing it and how much my life was on hold because of my weight. If you had asked me seven or eight years ago if I was putting life on hold because of my weight, I would have emphatically said, "No."

I would have been wrong though.

Friday, November 30, 2012

We've got health insurance!

My COBRA was over on Nov. 10th and I whiffed and didn't getting anything else lined up. I was very surprised that, as time ran out, I wasn't be bombarded with offers to switch from COBRA to private insurance. When I called United Health Care to inquire about what options they had, I found out why.

They don't offer insurance to the public in California.

Actually, as far as I can tell, they aren't really in that market much of anywhere. They specialize in being administrators of companies' self-insurance plans. Intuit had self-insurance.

I had two days to get another option but supposedly I'm going to be converted to an employee at my new job so my motivation to do all that work for just a few weeks of insurance was limited. I was also concerned about pre-existing conditions, which all three of us have.

Which is how the kids and I ended up on Mr. Mac's insurance plan.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm a Winner! (NaNoWriMo)


This was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo (more formally National Novel Writing Month). I did attempt a novel once when I first graduated from college. Before that I only did short stories and poetry and I was convinced I was an extremely talented writer who would be famous for my novels some day.

But trying to write a novel killed me as a writer. I never wrote any fiction after that ever again until this month. (So it's been 33 years - wow.)

I'm not sure what the deal is with novels but I found them much harder than just writing a longer short story or writing several short stories strung together and trying to do a novel convinced me that I didn't have the talent to be a writer so I stopped writing except for work and my blog and message boards all of which are non-fiction.

Isn't that sad?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

No Headache (sort of)

On Friday night, i went to bed with a slight headache. The next day it was gone and did not come back until bedtime again. It wasn't exactly 24 hours, more like 23 but I think that's the best I've done so far.

Of course, I am sick and took this big nap in the middle of hte day after sleeping in in the morning. So I was asleep for 16 of those 23 hours.

But it happened. So there's hope.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Head Report: One Year and Counting

It's been over a year since  I hurt my head. Around Halloween, I had a dramatic improvement. I woke feeling cured with no restlessness and little thought to my head for hours. I still was getting headaches every day but some days they were so slight I hesitated to call them headaches.

I started dreaming of working out and even doing a 5k in December.

But then we started putting in long hours at work and working a war room. It was my first war room experience and I enjoyed many aspects of it and think it's the right thing to do for this phase of the project. But it kills my head.

I even had a headache so bad on Monday that I had to blow off my SVTC meeting and miss a great speaker.

I am frustrated though those two weeks where I saw light at the end of the tunnel have given me hope. With Thanksgiving coming up and a code-complete date in sight, I am hopeful that I will get back to where I was at Halloween. I am even planning to run every day starting Jan 1, 2013. So I better get better!

I am supposed to go back for a follow up visit next this week but I have no health insurance right now. As soon as I get a new policy started up, I will go back and see what the neurologist says.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I'm writing a book!

November is National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) and this year I've decided to participate. I'm not actually writing a true novel. I'm writing my memoirs. More specifically I'm writing about the same things I write about on this blog, only with a more biographical slant.

I'm starting out just writing a series of stories as if each one was a blog post. I'm not worrying about how they all fit together. Or if they are in chronological order. Or polishing them.

When I'm done, the plan is to edit them into book format so that they do tie together somehow and present a coherent story.

It's only day three and I've already learned a lot.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's not about willpower.

People often ask me for advice about losing weight. Or, they don't ask me, but they say things that desperately make me want to give it to them. Like today.

So instead of dropping my unsolicited advice on some poor hapless soul on the internet who never even asked for it, I decided to drop it on you. And here it is:

Folks, it's not about willpower! It's about setting up your life so good choices are easier and more automatic than bad choices. If you set up your life so bad choices are in your face 24/7, you will eventually give in to them. Every damn time.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Those jeans make your butt look great!

The other day I was driving home from work and I came to the intersection where all the political signs are. You know the one... it's always on a corner of an empty lot with a chain link fence and it starts the voting season with a few signs but the next thing you know, there are 10 signs for every candidate and there are so many you can't really pick one particular one out of the crowd.

This time, though, right in the middle there was this black sign with plain blue block letters and it said:
THOSE JEANS MAKE YOUR BUTT LOOK GREAT
It made me smile. Even though I'm not even sure I was wearing jeans at the time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cottage Cheese Test and other numbers

Since I'm four years out so I did the Cottage Cheese Test. I first did this test when I was 7 months out and then on the anniversary of my surgery every year after that. I've gotten numbers in the 4.5 to 6.5 oz range and this year I got 5.5 oz, right in the middle of that range.

So take that all you "Your Sleeve Will Stretch Out and You'll Gain All Your Weight Back" naysayers. As I told someone online the other day... it's a stomach, not a water balloon.

I also took my measurements. About the same as the last time I took them but up from one year ago. Damn Post-Concussion Syndrome! I can't wait to be able to start running again so I can lean out.

The Four Year Numbers:
Bust: 36
Chest: 29
Waist: 30
Stomach: 40 (ouch!)
Hips: 37
Thigh: 17.5
Calf: 13.5
Arm: 10 (no change)

I still haven't scheduled my yearly check-up with my PCP so no lab work to report on. I need to get on that before the COBRA runs out next month!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Four years comes with a whimper

I have often wondered about people who come to the online message boards and post "My X year surgiversary came and I forgot all about it!" How could you forget that, I wondered. Wouldn't it be like forgetting your birthday or anniversary?

Um, er, well...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My status, she is quo

It's been a month since I saw the neurologist and I think that nothing has really changed. I think that maybe my headaches are less severe and happen less often but I never did get around to starting that Headache Journal so I can't really swear to it.

I have a sense that the B2 and Magnesium are working. Plus I have been sleeping quite well lately and I heard magnesium is good for that.

But I'm still grumpy as all get out. People are seriously annoying me on a regular basis and I have to remind myself not to do things when I'm angry because I'll do something I regret.

I also don't have the kind of energy that I used to have. Every weekend I have all these plans and every weekend I do the bare minimum to get by. It's frustrating.

I am so looking forward to the day when I wake up and don't think about my head even once all day.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Apparently I have "migrainous tendencies"

Which is a fancy way of saying I sometimes get migraines.

I never have been officially diagnosed with migraines mostly because I don't get them very often and they don't last very long and I'm not much for going to the doctor unless I'm dying or scared about something. Getting a headache once in a while where I feel slightly nauseous and need to lay down in a dark room certainly doesn't cut it. Especially as sometimes it's over a year between incidents.

However, I have gotten these sorts of headaches since I was in High School. I'm also very sensitive to smells. I can smell perfume that other people don't even notice and I can always tell if someone around me is smoking even if I can't see a cigarette. And those things means I have a tendency to get migraines and having a tendency to get migraines is a red flag when it comes to post-concussion syndrome.

At least that what Brain Doc said to me today.

I'm scaring myself here

Yesterday, as I drove home from work, I started composing a blog post in my head. I had a catchy title and everything. But then I got home, had some dinner and kicked back a bit. Once I was relaxed, I decided to write out the blog post.

But it was gone. Really and truly gone. I can't even remember the catchy title.

Now, it's not like I never forgot anything before my accident. We've all had instances where we went off to do something, got into the room in the house we were going to do it and couldn't remember why we had come into that room. Or at least I have.

But post-concussion, it's different. It's like my slate gets wiped completely clean. There isn't even a niggle of "I know what I wanted to say/write/do and I know it's in my brain somewhere; I just can't access it." Instead, it's as if it totally left my brain.

This happens with words too. I'll be saying something and just as I'm about to say a word, it completely leaves my brain. I can't even remember what letter it started with.

I guess it's a good thing I see the neurologist in an hour.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

MYTHBUSTERS: Starvation Mode Revisited

Since my article on Starvation Mode is the most popular on my blog, I figured it was time for an update. To recap that article:

It is a myth that not eating "enough" will cause you to stop losing weight. As long as you are in a calorie deficit you will lose weight. You may not be healthy, if you eat too little and there is a point of demising returns because dieting slows your metabolism, but eating "too little" does not explain weight loss plateaus. If it did, no would die from starvation.

So, if that's the myth, what's the truth about dieting, starvation and is there actually even something called "Starvation Mode" even if this "mode" doesn't cause weight loss plateaus?

The answer is: sort-of.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Off to see the wizard

Today I got my brain scanned.

It was a pretty simple and easy process that took about 5 minutes. I didn't even get into work any later than usual.

I decided that my head was getting worse, not better. I have headaches more often and they hurt more than back in April when I was excited by the idea of starting to swim and thinking that within a few weeks of swimming, I might even be able to start biking. So on Monday I went to see my PCP and she set me up with a referral to a neurologist and a CT scan.

My medical group is pretty responsive. They were massively apologetic that I couldn't get an appointment with the neurologist until mid-August (3 weeks away) and I could have had my CT scan that day if I was willing to miss some work. Not only that, my results are already back and online for me to see!

And the results are.....

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Water, water everywhere, but...

... not a drop to drink. Because it was salty!

I finally got to go swimming after planning and plotting and getting ready to for weeks only to get headaches. I crashed the Silicon Valley Triathlon Club's New to the Sport workout. We ended up somewhat combining with a Team in Training group which was enormous and also swimming where we were. And I only lasted 20 minutes.

Unfortunately I did get a brief headache on the way home but I think that's because I hadn't drunk enough beforehand and forgot my water bottle so I couldn't drink after.

When I got home, I drank and drank all day and my head got better eventually. Not good enough to go to the concert I wanted to go to that night, but good enough to think I might try swimming again pretty soon.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Today I outed myself at work

Okay, technically it was yesterday.

I have never made a secret of the fact that I've had Weight Loss Surgery but, now that I'm almost four years out and have been a normal weight for over three years, it's not a subject that comes up much. I have worn my "Surgically Altered Freak" shirt to work and drank from my Bariatric Bad Girls Club blender bottle. But I am sure that most people haven't picked up on that and have no idea.

Yesterday the people I was eating lunch with were giving me a hard time about how little I eat (again). One of them said something about your stomach being the size of a fist so most of them were probably eating too much. I piped up and said that my stomach was actually the size of a Pilot Pen ... only longer.

So I told them about the surgery and showed around the pictures of myself at my highest weight.

Well that caused a stir as you can imagine!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why I'm glad I never picked a goal weight

People like myself who have struggled with their weight all their lives are not always rational about our weights. For many reasons.

One thing we experience is denial. At our heaviest many of us had no real idea of how big we were. We look at pictures and we marvel -- were we really this big? We knew we were big, but that big? How could we not know we were that big?! 

This leads us not to trust ourselves. Which causes some interesting internal mental struggles.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Getting back to exercise is harder than starting in the first place

Or at least that's the way it seems to me.

When I first started out, I had no expectations. At first it was hard to workout as much as I should have but once I signed up for the triathlon, I really had to or risk making a total fool of myself. And once I got in the habit of it and had rearranged my  life around working out, missing a day here and there was no big deal. My schedule pulled me right back in.

I'm in a different place now. First, I can't sign up for a race because I have no idea if I can be ready for it and also I want to proceed at the rate my body dictates and not force things.

But also my workout times have all been filled in with other activities. So I'm back where I was when I had no habit to exercise.

On top of that, I do have expectations. Going to the gym to swim for 20 minutes (about all I can manage right  now) seems pointless compared to what I have been doing. I tell  other people to "start where you are and build up" but  I'm having trouble taking that advice myself. I don't want to start where I am but start where I was.

In the meantime, I still have relapses that keep me from working out. Last Friday I went to the SVTC Happy Hour and the next day I developed a headache again. Maybe it was from the alcohol or maybe it was the noise or maybe it was the heat and not drinking enough fluid that day. Or maybe it was all three. But I've had a low-grade headache pretty much every day since then. I even took some Advil at some point and I haven't had to do that for weeks.

Coming back from this head thing is going to be a slow hard road, isn't it? At least I was able to keep myself from signing up for Ironman Tahoe!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ironman vs. Real Life

A lot of people think I'm crazy to train for Ironmans. Or, if not exactly crazy, they don't understand how I can find the time let alone the motivation. Or maybe they think this sort of training is too hard on the body and humans weren't meant to do it.

I can't say these people are wrong.

Turning a hobby into a business

When I was in major cake pop making mode, a lot of people told me I should try to sell my cake pops. I did actually toy with doing something with them. I was going to enter some recipe contests and I thought about actually selling them.

But then sanity prevailed.

My first kick in the pants occurred when I decided to pledge two dozen cake pops to a bake sale that was a fundraiser for some people at work dealing with cancer. This was probably the first time in ages where I had to deliver a certain amount of cake pops by a certain time.

It was stressful.

The nice thing about bringing cake pops to a potluck is that you can't alway not do it and bring something else. The same with bringing them into work. If you feel tired that night, just do it another time.

The other nice thing is that you don't have to be as picky about how things turn out. If this cake pop is a little lopsided and that one doesn't have the sprinkles on it quite the way you want or the chocolate dripped down the stick too far, well just don't bring it in. Or bring it anyway and figure people getting free food won't be picky.

But when you are selling something... it has to meet certain standards.

In my life, I have tried to work for myself two times. Both times ended up as disasters. This may surprise people because I am very organized in my work life and even my personal life I get a lot down. But when I worked for myself, I had trouble forcing myself to do things when there was no schedule or outside force forcing me to do it.

I am sure it would have been the same if I had to tried to start a cake pop business.

I would still like to DO SOMETHING with my cake pops, but I think that what will actually happen is that I'll start training again and I will lose interest in this cake pop hobby entirely.

And speaking of training again.... on to the next blog post.

Time flies when you have nothing to say

It's been over two months since I posted here. Wow. I knew it had been a while, but...

At first, I had run out of things to say. I mean I could have posted more about cake pops but I don't want to have a Cake Pop blog. Yes, there are blogs that are entirely about cake pops. Wow, again.

Then, I actually had a lot to post about. But I was also out in the wilderness without internet for most of that time. When I got back... work picked up as did my volunteer work.

So here I am. First free week in ages. And so much to say that it's hard to know where to begin.

First, my head is a lot better. Not well enough to start working out and training for an Ironman again. But I rarely have full blown headaches any more -- just more like twitches and itches -- and I have been able to swim without aggravating my head. Still can't run or even walk briskly or listen to music in the car most days. Biking is iffy too. But swimming seems possible.

Now that I'm not as busy, I'm going to try to find a place to swim near my work and try swimming a few days a week and see what happens.

As far as everything else, I think I will try to separate it out into a series of posts so it's not all mashed together as one enormous, rambling stream of consciousness.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Something's gotta give

I think I am at a crossroads. I have gotten to the point where I have cut out pretty much everything that bothers my head that I can cut out. (I still have to drive and go to work, after all.) And, for the most part, I'm okay.

But I'm not fully recovered. I still have at least one or two days a week where my head actually hurts and there is maybe only one day a week where I can't feel discomfort in that area even if it's not a full-blown headache.

I thought that if I waited until I didn't get a headache for a week that I could start working out again without getting them. But that hasn't happened. I'm not getting worse but I'm not getting better either. Plus I still get headaches whenever I do something out of the ordinary -- rush around all day running errands, do something stressful (taxes!), or go to a party.

On top of that I am grumpy all the time.

I am seriously thinking that this may be my new normal. And, if it is, why not train?

The reason not to train is to avoid giving myself chronic headaches. But what if I already have them? Then I might as well be happy in between headaches is my thinking.

I guess I need to make an appointment to see my PCP. I just don't want to because I know what she's going to say: I just have to be patient.

I am and have been many things. But patient is not one of them!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Meet Grumpy, Bashful, Happy and Doc

We used to have this joke at our house that we were the four dwarves. Mr. Mac was Grumpy, Mini-Mac was Bashful, MacBoy was Happy and I was Doc.

Lately though, MacBoy hasn't been Happy, Mini-Mac is turning into Teenage-Attitude Dwarf (who they don't show in the movie because he's such a colossal pain in the behind) and I've been fighting Mr. Mac for the title of Grumpy.

I'm not sure why, so I guess I'll blame my head. Or maybe the lack of exercising that it causes. Or maybe it's something completely unrelated.

All I know is if I have to deal with one more snafu or listen to one more moron, I will jump up and down screaming until I split in two like Rumplestiltskin. I swear!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Whacky cake and other baking substitutions

I've been doing a lot of experimenting with baked goods lately. It started with making cake pops and trying to make them healthier and with less calories than they normally have and then I found out a lot of people I work with don't eat eggs and one of MacBoy's friends has celiac disease and so doesn't eat wheat.

This is what I've learned:

Don't start with "healthy" recipes you find online

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The problem with going to a traditional Irish Pub for the St. Patrick's Day Eve is that they don't serve green beer. I have managed to get to my 50s without ever having had any. Once in a while I feel this as a loss, just the fact that I've never read Catcher in the Rye. Or done something else that "everyone" has done.

On actual St. Patrick's Day, I was at Sports Basement's Tri-fest and they had green beer. I was going to get some but I was working the Silicon Valley Tri Club booth and someone else tried it first and said they could taste the green. So I passed. Because it sounded disgusting.

I did make a lot of cake pops though.

And now UHC's web site shows my medical insurance as being cancelled. So once again the people at Hewitt's LIED TO ME. The last person I talked to said she would put in the request to reinstate my insurance and would call me back when it went through. She did NOT call me back. And, instead of re-instating my health insurance, they processed the cancelation with the health insurance company.

I just know when I call on Monday they'll tell me that it was all some automatic process and not to worry and how it will all miraculously take care of itself somehow.

I think it might be time to call my lawyer.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Goofy: A Challenge Half Done

I talked a bit on Facebook and online about my experiences at Walt Disney World and The Goofy Challenge but I never blogged about it. Part of why that happened will be clear as you read further.

To recap: The Goofy Challenge is something that happens at WDW every January during the WDW Marathon Weekend. Most people run either the Half Marathon or the Marathon. A certain Goofy population does BOTH. This is a real thing that Disney sponsors. You sign up for it and you get an extra medal and an extra t-shirt. (Why isn't it called The Dopey? Maybe because there is an unofficial Dopey -- people who sign up for the Goofy Challenge and also the Family Fun Run 5K that happens on Friday.)

Of course, you have sign up for these things well in advance. I'd been planning to do this race starting in 2010 when a friend proposed it and encouraged a bunch of us who frequent the OH Exercise & Fitness forum to do it as a group. We were coming from all over the country to do one or both races. I registered at the time the race was half full and I bought airline tickets in the summer (found a killer deal, too). 

So by the time I broke my brain, I had paid for everything but the actual Disney Vacation package. And it was all either completely or mostly nonrefundable.

Monkey Pop: Too cute to eat!

I got the idea to make monkey-shaped cake pops a while back. I was looking for something to make for the concession stand at Mini-Mac's show and, since there is a Circle of Life scene, I figured some jungle animals would be nice. I looked all over the web for ideas and, man, there are some creepy looking monkey and lion cake pops out there.

I finally settled on a design of my own that combined the best parts of several designs I saw.

But they involved using a Peanut Butter chip for the mouth and nose and one of the rules for the baked goods at the concession stand is "no nuts." So I won't be making them for "Wish Upon a Star". Which is too bad because the chocolate peanut butter cake pops are to die for. If I do say so myself.

I also won't be posting a recipe because I've decided to enter a recipe contest and every contest I've looked at has the following rule:

Your recipe can not have been previously published anywhere including ... blogs ... 

Bummer.

But the basics are pretty easy to figure out. I made a chocolate "cake" using my special "low sugar" substitutions to a brownie recipe and then mushed it up with peanut butter. The first batch, I used PB2, which I think works great for cake pops. The second batch, I did some with PB2, but I didn't have enough so I did the rest with regular peanut butter. They didn't hold together too well. After the first two exploded when I tried to monkey-fy them, I gave up and just did regular cake pops covered in sprinkles. And was very, very careful getting the chocolate on.

The second set came out better. I'm getting better at controlling the chocolate. But we ate them before I could take a picture. They went fast! So just imagine a lot of monkeys like this only with neater body parts.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Navigating our byzantine health care system

In the continuing saga of my COBRA medical coverage, I decided to wait to see if my account would be updated on Monday. This company does a lot of batch processing over the weekend even though we're in the 21st Century and most database get updated instantaneously or at least nightly. But by end-of-day there was no change, so today I called them.

As usual the person I talked to was very nice. They also had the same "no worries" attitude that they all give out. Oh, don't worry, we did process your check. We just cancelled your account because we do that automatically on the 4th or 5th of each month, if we don't get your check by then. No biggie, right? Okay, no one said directly "no biggie" but they might as well have. They act like everything is "no big deal." But it's my health insurance so everything is a big deal!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hewitt/Your Benefits Resources? You SUCK!

Damn, the COBRA people are working my every last nerve. Their online system sucks and their phone system isn't much better. They give out inconsistent information and they go out of their way to screw me at every turn. I have had so much trouble with them but this latest fiasco has to be the worst.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Stopping Emotional Eating

I used to think I wasn't an emotional eater. And, for the most part, I'm  not. I don't eat to stuff down negative feelings or to deal with the pain of abuse, for example. But I do tend to eat when I'm bored, which counts.

I think the "eating when bored" thing is something a lot of people do. Eating is stimulating, after all, so it does a decent job of snapping you out of boredom. It's just that it can set up a destructive cycle.

In the "50 Tips to Help You Succeed at Normal Eating", the last set are all about Emotional Eating and how to stop it. They are:

When you have the urge to eat when you’re not hungry, ask yourself what you might be feeling.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Old Job vs. New Job

There are certain things I don't blog about very much. This includes my job. I also don't bitch about it on Facebook or anywhere online that the public can get too. I've heard too many horror stories about people being fired or not getting jobs because someone read something they posted about work and took it the wrong way. But the differences between my old and new job are somewhat fascinating to me so I decided to risk talking about them a little.

Old Job was in  High Tech. New Job is for a Public Utility. You'd think they'd be like night and day, but in a lot of ways they aren't. Some of those ways are profound and some are not.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Banana Pops

The last time I made banana cake pops, I forgot to add in the sugar. The funny thing is, nobody noticed! That's right. They were missing 1.5 cups of sweetener, but were only slightly not sweet enough. That's probably because I had an extra 1.5 cups of mushed bananas, which are plenty sweet.

This time I did a better job, adjusted some of the quantities, made some different substitutions, and I think the result was orgasmic. If I do say so myself.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cake Pop Land Revisited

The last time I posted about cake pops, I was having issues with my cake pop maker. I couldn't get round cake pops! Well, I just wasn't ready to give up so I noodled on it a bit and had this thought: why would tons of people have no trouble getting round cake pops while a small minority just can't get round ones no matter what they do? What could be different between their cake pop makers?

My answer: how hot they get!

I figured we all had the same size holes and we were using the same recipes (as many were using the ones from the book or just using a box of cake mix). So heat seemed to be the only variable. I figured the quality control on these things can't be that great -- mine only cost $9 after all -- and, if mine wasn't heating up enough, then the cake wasn't being baked enough and it would not be done rising when I took the pops out. Plus, some of those pops did seem a bit underdone.

So I started cooking my pops longer and longer until I was cooking them 7-8 minutes instead of the recommended 5-6 minutes and - voila! -- round cake pops.

I got so excited that I went on a cake pop making spree. Whee!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Changing my beliefs

I decided to finish off posting about the "50 Tips" from "The Rules of Normal Eating" by Dr. Karen Koenig that I started just over two years ago. So I fired up the document and looked at the next section called "Beliefs to Change". This is something I was excited to write about because it's something I've been thinking about lately. But then I read the beliefs we are supposed to change and what we are supposed to change them to and, for a number of reasons, they bugged.

Starting with:

From "I need to diet to lose weight" to "Diets don't work long-term"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Our endless quest for perfection

I see a lot of people, especially women, online and in real life, who are constantly beating themselves up about their weight or their looks or both. This distresses me because so much of it is completely unnecessary and because it's so mean. Yes, they are being mean to themselves, but it's still being mean. I don't think it helps and I've always suspected it actually makes things worse.

Then, one of the nuggets I read during Fat Talk Free Week said that women who talk negatively about their bodies are less likely to engage in healthy behaviors. So it seems that I was right in my suspicion: Beating ourselves up and striving for an unattainable state of perfection isn't "holding ourselves to high standards" (which is how I used to justify this behavior to myself) and it actually makes it harder to improve!

I think everyone has to be honest with themselves about how much they are willing to do to manage their weight. How much they are willing to exercise. How much they are willing to deprive themselves of treats. How much they are willing to follow the rules. How much they are willing to put up with hunger. Some people are willing to do quite a lot and some people aren't willing to do much at all.

Once you figure out what you are willing to do, then you have to accept the weight this leaves you at.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Eating butter didn't give Paula Deen diabetes

There's been a lot in the news a few months ago about Paula Deen going public as having Type II diabetes. I have to say, in spite of often agreeing with the substance of these articles (I think the way she chose to handle things is indicative of much that is wrong with our culture and with maintream medicine), I find myself being exasperated by a lot of these articles. That's because they almost always end with something along the lines of:
Butter is bad for you? Who knew?!
Because everyone knows that butter is bad for you. I mean eating too much saturated fat gives you Type II Diabetes, right?

Um, no.

US Nats: Wrap-up

I didn't want to leave people hanging but it's almost a month since US Nats were in town and I haven't written about the Mens, Pairs Championships or the Exhibition. Which means I'm probably not going to.

I do have a few things to say.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

US Nats: Championship Ladies

It's been over a week since the US Figure Skating Championships ended and the Exhibitions have finally been shown on TV so I guess it's pretty clear that I'm not going to finish detailed reports on the rest of the Championship events. That's okay. There are plenty of bloggers covering the Senior levels; I much prefer giving some attention to the younger kids.

 Which is not to say that I haven't got thoughts on these events. I always have thoughts! So here's a quick wrap-up of the Ladies, with Pairs and Mens to follow hopefully by the end of the week. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

US Nats: Championship Dance

The competition is over and not only do we know the winners, but we even know the World Team and even who is 3rd Alternate for 4CC (pronounced Four Continents). So I hope this isn’t too anti-climactic.

The big story in Dance was “who will come in third?” Unlike with Ladies, Men and Pairs, we actually have three slots on the World team and the reigning Gold and Bronze world medalists skate for the US. So clearly they are going to end up in 1st and 2nd respectively leaving only one slot for Worlds undecided. And, with several new teams in the mix, it really is undecided.

I now need to make an aside to state: who reading this ever thought that the day would come when the US had only two slots for Mens, Ladies and Pairs but three for Dance? As much as I love dance, and as much as I predicted great things for David &White and the Shibutanis back when I first saw them skate, I am raising my hand right along with you.

Back to the competition…

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Look for me on tv!

If you are watching the US National Figure Skating Championship on tv today (Saturday) or tomorrow (Sunday), you will probably be able to see me because I'm in the front row. I'm wearing a maroon ski jacket over a brown striped shirt. And I should be easy to spot because skaters do lots of jumps and spins right by us and also I'm sitting right about the & in AT&T.

Here's a picture:

I'm sitting where that gal in white is sitting. (Yes, she's in my seat. Don't worry, I kicked her out for the main event.)

Also, you may be wondering where the event reports are for the rest of the short programs. I plan to do one long write-up of the rest of the Senior events once the competition is over because there really isn't time to do any more between now and then.

Friday, January 27, 2012

US Nats: The Championships Begin

People who watch skating on TV and aren't involved in their local skating scene, are often completely unaware that there is any skating going on at Nationals other than the Senior level, which they call the Championships. If you normally read my blog for the weight loss and workout content, you have probably been thinking "Novice? Junior? What the heck is that?" Well, now you know... in fact, there are skating levels below Novice starting with Pre-preliminary. (Yes, there is a level below Preliminary. In fact, there are several as there is also a Basic Skills program with 5 levels and Pre-preliminary skaters have often been skating for years.)

Yesterday was the start of what most people think of as Nationals as the first Championship events were competed. Coming to the arena, you could feel and see the difference. First, when we pulled into the parking lot, it seemed full of cars. It turns out that some people had sensibly parked near the exit so they could get out earlier and there was plenty of room just past them, but there were easily twice as many cars as any other day we attended. 

The second thing I noticed was that the arena had gotten fancier. There were balloon arches everywhere in USFSA colors (red, white & blue just like 20 million other sporting agencies and clubs). There were pretty vinyl stickers on the risers of the concrete steps advertising one of the sponsors.

But the most important change is that more than the generic arena concession stand was open. Yeah! Unfortunately, it became clear that Armadillo Willy's would never open as it's trapped behind some TV broadcasting area but at least we've got Sonoma Chicken Coop and Gordon Biersch to try out.

Oh, you want to know about the skating...

US Nats: Jr Pairs & Ladies

Junior Pairs

I thought it was interesting that during Junior Pairs, a bunch of people were tweeting about how horrible our Pairs are at the exact same time I was thinking how much better our pairs are than they were when I first started going to Nationals.

For example, there used to be a time when almost no Pairs team in the US was able to do SBS Spins and keep them in sync for the entire time. Now almost all of them do it. They also don't have Pairs Spins that crash into each other and get all wobbly and kind of die out. And this is Juniors we are talking about. It used to be that all but the top Senior Pairs and even some of those also had these issues.

That said, I think Death Spirals have gone downhill in some ways. Well, in one way. That is pretty much every single Death Spiral I've seen this weekend, the Lady has gone down into the final position by sticking her butt out and then laying down. That is NOT how you are supposed to get into a Death Spiral. The whole idea is that you are swooning, you gracefully sink down to the floor and then you die all why some guy is spinning you around on the ice. That's why they call it a Death Spiral. Er, at least I think that's why.

As far as the actual competition is concerned, the first skaters up where Cali and Nick. I enjoyed their program even they didn't have the hardest elements but it ended up putting them in last place.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

US Nats: Junior Finals - Dance

I'm a bit behind in my blogging as is normal for mid-week in Nationals. Therefore, I won't be talking about every performance, just the ones that stood out in some way or won a medal or were done by my favorites. I may not even do the Seniors at all. After all, there are a ton of people out there that only do Seniors so it's not like there is a need for one more.

Anyway...

Junior Dance

Wednesday was the last day of the Junior events. We started off with Junior Dance, which is my favorite event. Based on the Short Dance, my favorites were Howe & Janke, Pogrebinsky & Gudis, Bonacorsi & Mager (who I wanted to win) and Hertigage & Fast.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

US Nats: Time for Juniors

The Junior events started today. Well, Junior Men finished. There were only three events though so it was much more restful than yesterday.

I started the day having "one of those days". Got up late, got out of the house late, had to take Mini-Mac to Concord, realized I had left my coat at home and had to go back instead of straight to the arena. Rush, rush, rush and I ended up getting to my seat about 5 minutes before the Junior Dance Short Dance started.

It was totally worth rushing to get there though even if the first event was Junior Pairs and normally I'm not big on watching Pairs. But this was different because I had some horses in this race.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

US Nats: Novice Monday

Today was the end of the Novice events and start of Junior Ladies. It was a very, very long day.

Novice Dance

It started around 10:30 am with Novice Dance. Just as I was unhappy with the "dance" qualities of the Pattern Dances, I felt like most of the Free Dances were just programs and not two people dancing with each other, but on ice. There were some notable exceptions.

Monday, January 23, 2012

US Nats: Novice Sunday

The first few days of any US Nationals are packed. That's because all the Novices do their Short programs (or Pattern Dances for the Ice Dancers) the first day and they throw in the Junior Mens SP too. The second day, the Novices do their Freeskates (or Free dance for dance) to finish so then they do Novice awards and also start the Junior Ladies. It's a LOT of skating over two days.

Today I got there just as Novice Dance was starting. I experimented with tweeting after every performance. It was hard but doable but it killed my iPhone battery and I never did figure out how to log onto Twitter on my iPad. So I had to stop eventually.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A bit of blathering about US Nationals

The 2012 US National Figure Skating Championships are in town this week. The last time they were here was 1996 and that was my first live "real" skating competition. It was pretty memorable for a number of reasons. First, it was the year Rudy Galindo had his big breakthrough and won. Second,  it was the year Michelle Kwan became "Michelle Kwan" (with her Salome program) and won. Third, it was the first (and last) time a reigning National Champion (Nicole Bobek) had to withdraw for medical reasons and yet wasn't put on the World team anyway. Finally, and more personally, it was this competition that launched my career as a figure skating photographer.

What a difference 16 years makes.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quitting while I'm ahead

In general, I have a tendency to push the limits. So today when I went out for my first run of 2012 (and my first run since Oct. 27th and my first run since I hurt my brain) and I made myself turn around at the 5 minute mark so I really would do a 10 minute run and not push it to a 15, 20 or even 30 minute run, I was quite proud of myself.

In the past I would have run until my brain started to hurt and then limped back home and spent the remainder of the day scolding myself for being such a bird brain.

Hmmm. Maybe you can teach a old dog new tricks.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Adventures in Cake Pop Land

Cake Pops, The Prologue

Recently I have become obsessed with cake pops. The funny thing is, my obsession was full-blown before I'd even eaten a single one. There is something just so completely appealing about them -- a little bite of cake and frosting on a stick -- in a way that cupcakes are not. (For the record, I think cupcakes are everything I don't like about cake magnified; I can't wait for the cupcake fad to fade away.)

My first obsession with cake pops became how to make them without using icing. I am not a big fan of icing to start with and the idea of a cake smooshed up with icing and then covered with chocolate just seemed way too sweet to me. So I got interested in the cake pop makers that I was seeing on tv. But I worried they wouldn't really work and then I would have wasted my money.

Fast forward to Black Friday...