A fresh start

I tend to blog in spurts. That doesn’t do much for holding onto readers, let alone expanding readership. So, beginning today, I’m going to try to be a lot more consistent; “try” being the operative word. Sometimes work and life become so overwhelming it’s all I can manage to update my Facebook status or tweet something just once a day, let alone post to my blog. But if I fancy myself a writer – which I do in the fantasy world in which I often dwell –  how lame is that? Writers write. They MAKE time to write, no matter what. It takes discipline – something I have too often fund to be in short supply where I’m concerned. When I want to be, I can be more disciplined than a US Marine. In the past, I have been crazily disciplined in a bunch of different areas:  golf – hitting 500 range balls and playing 18-27 holes of golf every single day for months until I achieved a 6 handicap; hunt seat (English) equitation – riding for hours with no stirrups at a posting trot to strengthen my legs and perfect my independent seat; weightlifting – lifting heavy weights six days a week, come Hell or high water, and going from 26% bodyfat to 16% bodyfat in a matter of months, just to name a few examples. Unfortunately, it can take an act of Congress, impending doom, or seeing a photo of myself at 40 pounds over my normal weight, to drop kick me into disciplined Marine mode. None of those scenarios are applicable to writing, but the desire is strong right now. Maybe the timing is right. My favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, says you have to write every day, even if only for 10 minutes. Good grief. I should be able to find at least ten minutes in a day to write. So… we shall see.

Now, a brief update:

I was doing that Fit to Fat @ 57 series on this blog, albeit for a very brief time. I stopped because I ended up with a stress fracture in my left tibia and femur at the knee and had to cease all exercise, making losing weight and becoming fit almost impossible. Well, it seemed impossible to me at the time. That was the undisciplined me. The disciplined me would have continued to diet, regardless of the fact that I couldn’t exercise. Instead, I gave up and ate whatever I felt like eating. I’m sure you’ve guessed that I gained back everything I had lost, finding myself back at square one. In fact, I was a square minus one, because I gained an additional 4 pounds during my feeding frenzy.

I saw photos of myself in May of this year and was disgusted. The person in those photos was NOT me. At least, not the “me” in my head. I decided I had to do something NOW or live forever unhappy with myself. So, on May 10, 2013 I started the HCG diet. I am proud to report that I have lost 35 pounds and MANY inches – 6 of which were off my waist, 4 from each thigh, and 4 each from my hips and chest – since I started the plan. The program goes in rounds and phases. Phase 2 is the weight loss portion. Phase 3 is the maintenance portion. Phase 4 is how you eat for life. I have done two rounds consisting of Phases 2 and 3. I have happily maintained my losses during both Phase 3 rounds, which is huge. If you can stay within 2 pounds of the low weight you achieved during Phase 2 for at least 21 days, you can begin another round in an attempt to reach your goal. I have maintained twice now, which feels so great. I know I can eat “normal” portions and not gain. I also have learned my triggers – foods that I added that caused me to gain weight or retain water. It makes me feel much more in control of my weight and my eating, as opposed to feeling as though food controlled me. I have maintained my 35 pound loss for 21 days and through two rounds. I am beginning a third round tomorrow with a goal of losing 20 pounds by the end of the weight loss round – just in time for a conference I will be attending in November. I’m actually excited to start the next round because I know I will be successful and finally reach my goal.

Another benefit of this diet is that I have been completely weaned off bread and sugar. I no longer crave bread, pasta and other starches. I can make the spouse’s sandwiches for his lunch, fill Baggies with pretzels, chocolate, candies, and other snack foods, and not be tempted in the least to down a few bites in the process. I can go to a fast food restaurant and eat a salad while everyone else chows down on burgers and fries, and I don’t feel deprived. I feel GREAT! I look pretty good, too, or so I’m being told with increasing regularity. My clothes are all too big for me, so I’m digging out stuff that has been packed away for several years that is a size smaller. Even some of those things are too big. I’m almost two sizes smaller now. In another couple of weeks, I fully expect to be back in a size 10.  The things I like about this diet are that a) you lose quickly so it’s easy to stay motivated, b) the strict requirement to forego sugars and starches in Phase 2 and Phase 3 helps break the addiction to those things, and c) the support provided on the website and the HCG Diet Facebook page really helps when you hit a rough patch. I know I have developed eating habits that will be sustainable for life. I am not just dieting. I am eating in a much healthier way, sans binges, and with no wacky, unsustainable food plans. I now crave lean proteins, vegetables, and salads and can easily pass up bread, starches, and sugars. That’s not to say that once I reach my goal I will never allow myself to indulge on occasion, but as one successful dieter and author recently said in an interview, “rewarding yourself with food is like an alcoholic rewarding a month of sobriety with a beer.” That’s one of the best analogies I’ve heard in a long time.

In addition to the diet, I have been exercising. I rode my bike to work and back as often as possible this summer – an activity I absolutely love. The weather is changing, and riding is not an option a lot of the time. Sadly, all too soon it will be too cold and too dark to ride to work and back, so I’m back at the gym. Getting up at 5:15 a.m. to go workout, especially when it’s dark, raining or snowing, and quite unwelcoming outside, is not my favorite thing to do. So, I am attempting to develop the habit now, while it is not THAT dark, not THAT cold, and not THAT nasty out. Hopefully, I can string together enough days of successfully getting to the gym that it becomes a habit, and something I look forward to doing. If I can accomplish that, it will carry me through the dark and dreary days of winter that will be upon me before I know it. I know that long-term success with keeping my weight off and being fit lies in habitually going to the gym as much as it does in eating properly.

So, today is a fresh start in blogging and a fresh start on my way to achieving the level of fitness I had fifteen years ago. I know I can succeed at both with a little discipline.

I’m back for a visit

Edit: March 31 – I made this post 10 days ago, and I could SWEAR I published it.  I was surprised that I hadn’t had any comments, considering I’d actually updated.  I upgraded my WordPress installation, which required me to come into my blog’s dashboard, and lo and behold – the post was in my drafts folder.  Doh!  No wonder none of you had commented on this post!  It wasn’t published.  So, here it is…  and for the record, I’ll be posting a bit later today.  Now, on to the unpublished post:

Hi gang! How the heck have you all been? Is anyone still left out there? I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted, but I’ve had good reasons. And I’m probably not going to be back posting daily for a while, but I’m going to shoot for at least once a week.

So, a lot has transpired over the past several weeks. I completed a major implementation at work, which was a big part of why I’ve been MIA. I have to tell you, the product we implemented, a patron access management solution, is awesome! I wish we’d gone with this product from the beginning. It does everything we had hoped the previous product would do, and more. But it was a project getting it installed and configured properly. Additionally, we’ve been beta testing the newest version of library circulation software from our software vendor. That has been interesting. While I, of course, was all gung ho about being a beta site, the rest of the staff was not so keen on the idea. We had a few hurdles to jump, but the product is in release now, and we got to help make it all it has become! How cool is that? I really like the new version. For the most part, the staff does too, though some people struggle with change and almost refuse to give up old habits. The new version makes so many tasks so much faster to accomplish, but if a person continues to use the old workflow to do those tasks, it actually takes much longer to do them, which makes them hate the new version. It’s sometimes difficult to teach old dogs new tricks. Those who have learned the new workflow are really happy with the new version. It’s been interesting.

And on the YS front – HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND!!! At last, a girl who really likes him, who actually sought HIM out! She is a freshman, and it’s not serious or anything, but they have a great time together, she’s very bright, and she’s a computer science major too! In fact, her dad is an engineer with Intel. We met her when she came with YS to have dinner with The Spouse and me on my birthday. She was very nervous, poor girl, and of course I asked her a million questions – the way I do anyone I meet for the first time – which probably didn’t help. I didn’t intend to make her nervous. I just like to ask people about themselves. Turns out she has had a very rough time growing up. Her parents were druggies. She ended up living in her car and supporting herself during her first two years of high school. She was adopted at 15 by the Intel engineer and his wife, and went on to earn a full ride leadership scholarship to the university she and YS attend, which says an awful lot about this girl. She can be a bit goofy, but she’s sweet, and she adores YS. He’s being very smart about the relationship – she is not the focus of his life. They like each other, spend most of their time together, but neither is getting too serious. It’s nice to hear him say “my girlfriend” finally. They are heading to her home in Tacoma today to spend Easter and part of Spring Break with her family (her adoptive parents have one natural daughter who is older than she is), then they’re heading here mid-week to stay with us for the rest of Spring Break. She has never been here, so I’m sure YS wants to show her around. It will be fun.

Riley is doing great. He’s actually been spending some of his weekdays at our house, alone, rather than at The Daughter’s with Lola. He does okay, although he still goes berserk when we get home. I just know that Lola needs a break from him now and then, so thought he should become accustomed to being alone a couple of days a week.

And finally – I’ve made all our arrangements for our trip to London, Paris, and Rome! We leave on 5/19, YS’s birthday and the day after he graduates, for London, arriving on 5/20. We spend two days in London, then take the Chunnel to Paris on 5/22. We’ll stay in Paris until 5/27, when we’ll pick up a car and drive to Normandy. We’ll spend one day seeing the WWII beaches and monuments, and one day at Mont St. Michel. We drive back to Paris on 5/29, spend two more nights there, then fly to Rome on 5/31. We spend 5 nights in Rome in an apartment that looks out at the back wall of the Vatican. Seriously – it is right across the street from the Vatican! On 6/5 we fly back to Paris for one more night and one more day. Then on 6/6 we take the Chunnel back to London, spend the night there, then fly out at 5PM on 6/7, arriving home at midnight. The only thing yet to be arranged is our stay at the hostel in Paris that YS stayed in when he was there. They don’t accept reservations more than 45 days in advance of your arrival, so I can’t make the reservations until 4/4. I got a great deal on a hotel in London – a Travelodge actually. It had great reviews in TripAdvisor and was well located in central London. It’s 81 Pounds the first two nights, but only 29 pounds the night before we leave, and while that’s still amost $400 for 3 nights, that is so much less expensive than anything else that was as well reviewed that it’s not even funny. It is expensive to sleep in London!

Rome wasn’t cheap either. The apartment I had arranged initally was only 400 euros for a week. But right before I sent her the deposit, she wrote to tell me they’d had some problem at the apartment building and would not be able to rent it out until mid-June. That apartment was about 15 minutes outside Rome. I had already found the apartment near the Vatican, but she wanted 550 euros for 5 nights plus 30 euros to clean it afterward. 180 euros difference is a lot! After I got the email about the 400 euro apartment I contacted Maria Teresa about the Vatican apartment and reserved it. The day I wired her the 150 euro deposit, the euro cost me $1.60. Ugh. So, accommodations are costing us a fortune in Rome, but a lot less than a hotel would cost. And it’s a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen, so we may save money on food. I guess you only live once, right? Now I’m just praying the dollar recovers at least a little against the euro by the time we go. When YS was there it was $1.33 to a euro. Now it’s hovering between $1.55 and $1.60. That’s going to put a bit of a crimp in the budget. But hey, that’s what the American Express card is for, right?

Did I mention it’s snowing, hard, again? Just when I thought winter was over – I could actually see my lawn in places, my crocuses are coming up, my deck was visible in places – and now this. Not cool.

Well, that’s it for now. I miss being in on what’s going on with everyone, but my life has been just too crazy to even read blogs, let alone comment, or post on my own blog. I keep thinking things will slow down, and then another project comes along. I’m beginning to think this is the way it’s going to be from now on. I hope not. Regardless, I will have a terrific 3 week vacation. But boy, we will sure miss Riley. I hope he does okay at The Daughter’s while we’re gone. I keep teasing her about treating him like a stepchild. I hope it goes well.

I promise to post again soon, and before we go for sure, I just don’t know how soon “soon” will be.

Ciao!