20 books and 20 lbs (week 19): EHRMAGERD

I was really hoping that giving myself a challenge like this – losing 20lbs and reading 20 books in one year – would somehow force me into the discipline of posting weekly about my progress. AND THEN I HIT A WALL SHAPED LIKE SALMAN RUSHDIE.

Holy cow.

This. Book. Is. Slow.

I’m speaking of course, of “Midnight’s Children”, Rushdie’s 1981 novel about the life and times of some of the children born simultaneous with the creation of India as an independent state. I had originally reached for “The Satanic Verses” (which I’d bought when it first came out and almost immediately put down because I had trouble getting into it). DH deflected me to “Midnight’s Children” because he’d heard it was an easier read than “Verses” and he had enjoyed “Midnight’s Children” when he read it. He failed to mention that it was on his SECOND attempt to read it that it stuck. Sigh.

I’m finally past the 2/3 mark in the roughly 500pg novel, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Expect that this will not be a positive mark in my review, when I finally FINISH THIS BOOK and can move onto book #5 for the year. (Which I really need to do, lest I just bonk on this part of the challenge.)

As far as the attempts to lose weight go, I’ve spent the last few weeks trading up/down 1-2lbs…or sometimes even just a few oz. I haven’t done anything dramatic to my diet, and trying to get more walking time in to train for my Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk in September has been only semi-successful. Work commitments for me and/or DH have done a good job of derailing a lot of our best shots at training time.

We’re now 1/3 of the way through the year and I’ve dropped a little more than 1/3 of my goal – I’m down about 7lbs right now. Of course, I still feel like I’ve plateaued, so I have to do more there.

The one area where things really have been coming together nicely is with my #plankaday. As of yesterday, I had 3 consecutive weeks of #plankaday for at least 2min! I consider that a nice victory, although the next step beyond this is to aim for 2:30. Ouch. I can feel the ab burn even before I get down to my forearms!

So, in summation, life has been busy, but when I’m not at work or doing stuff with the family, I’m hip-deep slogging through “Midnight’s Children”. I will finish this book soon (before it finishes ME), and then I’ll grab book #5. With any luck, I’ll even manage to drop another pound or two and find my way off this plateau (in a positive direction, of course!).

20 books and 20 lbs (week 4): Slow and steady wins the race?

Well, I’d love to be able to say that I’ve lost DOZENS of pounds and I’m well into my 15th book, but that’s just not the case. I’m holding my own, still 3lbs below my original starting point. In fairness, having my 40th birthday this month AND having my sister’s birthday only a few days later, this house has been filled with birthday cake. I just don’t have the heart to throw the stuff out. IT’S CAKE! You can’t throw it out! It’s against some law, right…?

I am managing to plow my way through “A Tale of Two Cities”, now a little more than halfway through, and it’s clearly picking up steam. Ah, that Dickens: it only takes him about 150 pages to warm up. This is one of those funny things about writers. Most books tend to take the first 50-100 pages to “warm up”, to have a story that grips you and gets your attention enough that you’re well invested in what’s going on with the characters. Dickens taking longer than that is no big surprise. The question is whether he’ll also do the usual author thing, which is that the last 50-100 pages are some giant roller coaster, as the author suddenly realizes they have to FINISH THE THING and suddenly every single thread needs to be sewed up THIS VERY MINUTE.

Of course, as much as I laugh about it, I’m still glad to be literate. I can’t imagine not having books in my life – even the ones where they’re clearly not the best written things in the world (Stephenie Meyer, I’m thinking squarely of “The Host” as I say this).

And, naturally, just as I try to find a way to be more active (when I’m not reading Dickens, of course!), my work has gotten so nutsy cuckoo that I’m working late just to keep up. Gym? What’s that? Thankfully, I have offers of equipment and products to test, so as I get some of that stuff in, I can at least have the excuse of “I need to use it enough to report to others whether it’s worth using!” and that may be motivation enough to get my butt in motion. It’s all well and good to be 3lbs in towards my 20lb goal, but I’d like to be making more progress than that.

I suppose that’s the challenge of every person who tries to make/keep their life healthier. My friend, @BeWellBoston (Elizabeth Comeau of Boston.com), wrote an interesting blog post yesterday morning about how she manages to keep her routine together…and it’s all about creating just that: a routine. Much like her, I have a very supportive dh, and that makes a huge difference. Pre-kids, just having anĀ independent husband would’ve been enough. Having kids, the idea of a partner beingĀ supportive really helps even more, since that means that they’re willing to take care of others in addition to themselves.

It’s funny how little you think about these things until you have kids – or maybe you do. It’s like how you appreciate what your parents did 1000x more once you become a parent and realize just how incredibly difficult it is to be a decent parent. I suppose the running theme is “never stop trying”. You’re doomed to failure if you never even try.

Adventures in CSA (year 2 week 10): TAKE THIS BOX

It’s not every day that someone asks you to take their veggies, but this very thing happened to me. Turns out that friends of ours were having their summer holiday…and that trip happened to overlap with their CSA pick-up day. So, I awoke one morning to a Facebook message from my friend, asking if I wanted their CSA box this week. Why, sure! It’s not every day that someone offers you fresh veggies for free!

The CSA they’re in is offered by our local YMCA, run in a community garden in the next town over from the Y. The CSA started in early July and will run through late October (or as far into November as the farm decides they can continue producing enough for the share). This CSA is a bit unique in that, unlike the one I’ve been purchasing week-by-week, you can either pick up your box or you can go out into the field and pick your own. With our hectic schedule, I can’t imagine trying to incorporate a “pick-your-own” scenario into a weekly veggie box program, but that’s just me.

(*my friend provided the following update just after I posted my blog entry originally, so here’s what he had to say, then we’ll resume the original entry…*)

“The actual farming is done by volunteers. In some cases, classes of kids come and learn about farming while they tend the farm. {Our dd} has learned so much from the program just picking. Not only does she recognize all the various veggies, but she also knows how to tell if things are ripe. Some veggies she just eats right off the plant, like purple string beans and cherry tomatoes…zero pesticides. I have to admit, they are pretty good.

I doubt they’ll ever have tree fruits, because most take so long to fruit and it may be difficult without the aid of pesticides. Plus, trees take up space. They also recycle the plots, so it’s unlikely they do perennials. Though some things like strawberries can be replanted every year. Because there’s so much turnover of the land, they’re going to be able to do things in the fall that they missed on in the cooler spring, like spinach…”

(*resume original entry*)

So, off I went to pick up the box, and this is what I found:

Adventures in CSA year 2 week 10 veggie box

Such prettiness!

  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Green Pepper
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Boston Lettuce
Adventures in CSA year 2 week 10 cherry tomatoes

So lovely and SO tasty

The price comparison on this one is a bit trickier, since the price is $250 for the entire program, and there’s a variable length issue. Assuming that the box program started in the first week of July, as I was told, and it runs through the end of October, that would mean approximately 18 weeks, which translates to $13.89/week. I’ll use that as my starting point for comparison, and we’ll see whether or not my friend’s veggie box is a good deal when you just do the pick-up option. He did ask me to send him a picture so that he could compare the volume you get when you pick up versus when you pick it yourself, and {update} his response was that you definitely get more when you pick at the farm instead of just picking up the box{/update}. Certainly, if you can stuff more in when you pick on your own, time-willing, that may be a really great option. I don’t have the time…but for those that do, it’s an interesting way to try to economize even further when buying local.

The only other funny thing about this veggie box is that it had no fruit in it! I found that rather interesting, since every other veggie box I’ve gotten has had something – berries, apples, etc. – SOME kind of fruit. This one was full-on veggie-only. Guess that means we’ll be off to the farmstand this weekend to restock our fruit supply…