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 an independent husband would’ve been enough. Having kids, the idea of a partner being 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.

20 books & 20 lbs (week 3): A wonderful weigh-in

Normally, the last thing in the world that I would say is, “I really loved what I saw when I stepped on the scale!”, but this is one of those cases where I do have to say it.


Oh sure, I haven’t hit my goal weight yet, but since I lost three pounds between weeks 1 & 2, and got to start my third week on a high note, it gave me an extra incentive not to reach for a larger (or additional) helping when I didn’t really need one. For lunches this week, I tried taking a Lean Cuisine meal a couple of times a week to see if that would help me have a second meal that had a bit fewer calories than I usually had. It’s a dicey proposition, since I never find myself really *full* after a Lean Cuisine “meal”. It seems to me like those are entrées that are meant to have something else with them…fruit, bread…a sandwich…(just kidding).

A coworker suggested I try Kashi frozen meals, too, so I may check those out. I was laughing quite a bit at the freezer section of one of the refrigerators in the break room on my floor at work – it was mostly full of Lean Cuisine items with various people’s names scrawled on them in Sharpie marker. Yeah, it’s not just me. I’m curious about how the freezer drawer will look in, say, three months.

Once I get a few more weeks in, I’ll likely start publishing a chart of my weight changes; for those who know me well, it’s clear that I loves me some charts!

Adding in exercise is still a bit of a challenge, but I did manage to get a quick workout in this week. I’ve also been able to keep up with the #plankaday challenge, so this means that I’ve done almost three full weeks of it! I’m up over a minute without falling over, but getting much past the 1:07/1:08 mark is still a little tough. Seeing how Elizabeth at the Boston Globe (@BeWellBoston) can manage to get over 5 minutes, I figure I should be able to increase my time over time. It just takes practice and keeping at it. (Or so the theory goes.) DH and I are still trying to work the kinks out of a workout schedule that gives us both time to exercise, and I need to get on the stick and use the time I have to my advantage – when I have it.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Speaking of keeping at it, I’m still making progress on “A Tale of Two Cities”. I’m about one-third of the way through, and the book still hasn’t yet unfolded enough that I can see all of where Dickens is going with it. The humor continues, though, and it’s perfectly clear that his hatred for and derision of the wealthy class is quite solid. I also get a chuckle whenever the French scenes with Madame Defarge pop up, since they always make me think of Cloris Leachman’s role in Mel Brooks’ “History of the World, part 1”. Yeah, that’s probably not what Dickens was HOPING I’d think of, but that’s how it goes.

*   *   *   *   *   *

And, continuing the high notes, I turn the big FOUR-OH(crap) today. I don’t feel forty. I don’t feel twenty, but I don’t feel forty. Maybe that’s what forty is supposed to feel like..a year of walking around saying, “where did my thirties go?” Hopefully I’ll have lost a little more when I come to this Sunday’s weigh-in; that would certainly make for a VERY happy birthday.

20 books & 20 lbs (week 2): Planks for the memories

I figured that if I get into the habit of doing weekly updates, it’ll force me into some measure of discipline about things, and there’s no way that my goal to read 20 books and lose 20 lbs in 2013 will work if I don’t have some discipline about it. So, here’s an update…and if you’re playing along at home, feel free to comment below with YOUR updates. This game’s open to anyone who wants to participate, although you should only set goals that work for you. My goals work for ME because I set them. And, while it should go without saying, I can’t let it go: don’t set ANY weight loss goals and/or exercise without having talked to your primary care physician first. I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I don’t have any designs on being a doctor. On the plus side, you don’t need to talk to an English teacher before you set your own reading goal…so, that saves you at least one phone call.

20 books: still on book #1. Okay, it’s not a ton of progress, BUT it’s still only the second week of the year and, to be fair, it’s Charles Dickens. It’s not like I picked the standard beach read. I will say that the story of “A Tale of Two Cities” is a pretty amazing book so far. It’s a slog, much as Neal Stephenson’s “Baroque Cycle” was, but if the payoff is half as good as what I got from Stephenson, then I’ll probably come out a Dickens-lover. We’ll see. Some days, I really love having a chewy read. Other days, I just want something mindless that I can breeze through without thinking. The next book may be something a bit more lighthearted…lest I weigh myself down (no pun intended) with too much depressing material.

20 lbs: hard to say, but I clocked in on Sunday AM at 221.4lbs. Not knowing where I was on January 1st (primarily because of a near-pathological fear of what the scale may say), I’m using that as my starting point. This means that I should be ending the year no higher than about 201lbs. It’s still far away from where I want to be, but every journey begins with a single step…and every weight loss begins with a willingness to admit that you NEED to lose weight. When I go for my physical in a few weeks, I’m hoping that I will be back down to where I was when I went last year; it would be disappointing to have to come in higher than where I was back then.

I haven’t yet gotten my exercise program in order; dh and I still need to sort out a schedule that allows us both to work out in an equitable fashion. He has all of his triathlon training and conditioning to do, and I know he doesn’t get as much time to do that as he wants. I haven’t yet set aside any time, and that has more to do with my lack of interest in losing any sleep than anything else. There isn’t a ton of time in the evenings for working out yet, but we can get back to alternating days when we do kiddo pickup & dinner in order to make it work. We just haven’t gotten back into that groove yet. Having two drop-offs in the morning and two pick-ups in the evening really has thrown us off a lot more than I expected.

So, what have I done, then? Well, I’m not being a complete schmoo. Last week, I started participating in the #plankaday challenge – the brainchild of Dr. Sherry Pagoto, a licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at UMass Medical School. She started the Plank A Day Revolution as a way to get people to make small change. All you have to do is perform just one “plank” per day. It’s great exercise for your core muscles, and you can do variations on it to give yourself more of a challenge. The basic move looks and feels like a pushup, except that you keep your forearms on the floor. I’m up to about a minute before my body is shaking enough that I feel like I need to take a break. It seems like the majority of folks who participate on Twitter tend to add the picture snapped from their phone of the timer, so that’s what I’ve been doing.




If you want to join in, feel free to give it a shot! Just make sure you are up to the physical activity and talk to your doctor and yadda yadda YOU KNOW THE DRILL BY NOW. Make sure that you use the hashtag #plankaday on your tweet and expect a visit from the Plank Police if you fall off the wagon for a few days. You can even get a plank penalty if you’re behind…so make sure you’re able to keep up!

Also, massive props on this to Elizabeth Comeau, the author of the Get Moving blog and a driving force behind the @BeWellBoston Twitter account, as well as RadioBDC. She celebrated her one year blogiversary on RadioBDC earlier this week, which is a pretty awesome milestone. If I didn’t follow RadioBDC on Twitter (and listen to them during the day), I wouldn’t know about Elizabeth’s work and wouldn’t have caught on to #plankaday, much less been bitten by the bug to participate. Elizabeth talking up #plankaday on RadioBDC and Twitter inspired me to give it a shot, and I’m glad I’m doing at least something until I can do more. See, radio will save us all…or at least that’s my hope.