Monthly Archives: August 2014

Good Food and Wacky, Wacky Machines


I’ll get to the machines, but first: PICTURES OF FOOD! 

 Breakfast looked like this: two eggs, a banana, and a handful of blueberries. The coffee mug is, in fact, full of coffee. The LAST cup of caffeinated coffee in the house.

Two eggs, a banana, and blueberries

Two eggs, a banana, and blueberries

Then I was hungry on the way to the gym, so I had some mixed nuts – almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, and maybe hazelnuts.

Emerald Energy Smoothie from Lifetime Cafe

Emerald Energy Smoothie from Lifetime Cafe

It was Try-It Tuesday, so they offered $1 off the price of the smoothies. Since I figured it was smart to refuel right after working out, I didn’t mind trying something new. This was super-yummy. The weird thing was that I got completely full on half the glass. I just drank water afterwards and stowed the rest in the fridge for a snack later.

When I got home, I had a handful of banana chips while I made lunch: reheated baked chicken breast, fresh green cabbage cooked in coconut oil with sea salt and crushed red pepper, and a slice of sweet potato.

Half chicken breast, cabbage cooked in coconut oil, and a slice of sweet potato

Half chicken breast, cabbage cooked in coconut oil with crushed red pepper, and a slice of sweet potato

Dessert was watermelon, but this time I monitored my intake so that I didn’t overindulge or just simply eat too much. I’ll confess I also wound up eating another slice of sweet potato the same size because no one else was going to, and it was super-yum.

Today was also weigh-in day. Yes, actually. Yes, yes, I know I weighed in yesterday, but Tuesday is the magical day for the 90DC.

Now, I had planned to go to yoga this morning, but Everything Conspired Against It. To the point that I got in the car, was about to pull out of the housing development, looked at the time, and realized that there was no way I would be on time to my yoga class. 

Eventually, after two more abortive attempts to leave to go to the gym, I got there (wearing shoes!). I decided to “Lift All the Things,” which is what my friend Amie calls weight training. Today I worked my chest and back, taking the advice to set the weights to something I couldn’t lift many times. I actually surprised myself with how heavy I needed to set the weights to make myself strain a bit. I thought I would have lost most of my strength and tone from not doing much over the past month, but I was able set the weights at or above where I’d had them before.

After lifting, I went to weigh in, and the numbers shocked me.

Either my body is super-responsive to slight changes in diet and exercise inside of a 24 hour period (which is entirely possible knowing my history for being able to gain and shed weight), or the computers are calibrated differently at the two different Lifetime Fitness Gyms I went to, which is equally possible.

So, the results were Total Body Weight 153 lbs (down 3.3 lbs) and Percentage Body Fat of 19.2% (down 3.6, which is a 15.78% change). Yeah, I don’t get it either.

All I can think is that I need to just keep up the good fight, keep plugging away doing what I know to be good for me, and add in anything that sounds like a good idea.

I’m really not looking forward to a shift in the opposite direction.

I am looking forward to getting back to my home gym and weighing consistently there because then I won’t have any of the worries that it’s the machine and not me making the change.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that being a transformation winner at the national level could win $10,000 plus a free membership for a year. I mean, not that I’m motivated by money or anything, but… well, there are probably some people who are investing a lot of time and money into this just to net that win. But it would still be cool, ya know?




Did the weigh-in today for the 90 Day Challenge (90DC). Today is full of numbers, plans, and theories.

It was both better and worse than I’d expected. 

Let’s start with the worse: My weight was 156.3 


Admittedly, last year I would have jumped for joy to be at 156. This year, I had a taste of being under 140, if only for a couple of days. It was a heady experience. One I’d like to repeat sooner rather than later.

My lean body mass is 120.6 

O-kay. I guess that means that I could conceivably reduce my overall weight by reducing the amount of water 88.6 lbs (any bloating or inflammation or just excess water retention) but that it would not be particularly reasonable for me to expect to get much below 135 total body weight.

My body fat is 35.7 lbs

That’s good news because that is something I can target and reduce with strength training, menu control, and exercise.  It gives me a good target for transformation.

My percentage body fat is 22.8%

That’s the number that’s going to be crucial for the transformation challenge. Looking at the body fat weight and the percentage body fat, my goal needs to be to transform about 16 lbs fat into something else – muscle, etc. That would be a 45% transformation, bringing my percentage body fat to 12.54%.  I don’t know how realistic that is for me, so I think I should aim for 16% as my happy goal, or 25.05 lbs fat, unless my math is fuzzy.

So ideally, my twin goals are to reduce total body weight and cut my total body fat by one third.

The path right now looks like trying to figure out which zone I should aim for when working out to burn fat instead of sugar, to pay attention to incorporating good Omega 3 fats, and to increase muscle with strength training and increased time under tension.

And then the “MyPlan” part of the program recommended this:

  • Focus on getting ample protein at every meal
  • Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables for every meal
  • If not used to preparing food, use more pre-packaged foods (frozen or pre-cut veggies, etc.) for convenience
  • Stop eating when satisfied or approximately 80% full
  • Choose only main dishes with fewer than 5 ingredients
  • Consume at least a half-plate full of colorful vegetables, every day
  • Eat protein every 3-5 hours while awake, depending on hunger
  • Emphasize healthy fats to help control training-induced inflammation
  • Drink at least 3 liters of water per day (about 100oz)
  • Limit caffeine to 1 cup of coffee per day
  • Limit alcohol to fewer than 3 drinks per week
  • Take specific supplements determined by your metabolic chemistry (lab work)

I had to put the blasphemy in bold. Limit my coffee? Are you people FREAKING NUTS? I was so totally on board with the whole thing until then. But this plan attacked my coffee. It’s the one thing that keeps me from drinking soda.

Protein? Check.

Non-starchy vegetables? No problem.

Stop eating sooner? Yeah, I need to work on that, especially after a night like tonight when I ate WAY too much watermelon. I am now the bloated gaseous queen of noxiousness. Too much watermelon = BAD.

Simple main dishes? Dude, my middle name is Simple.

Colorful veggies and protein? Didn’t we already address those? Check and check.

Healthy fats? Going to work on more Omega 3s.

Water? Eh, I have a love/hate relationship with water. Every now and then I hate drinking water; the rest of the time I love it. There are some times when I can guarantee I’ll drink the requisite amount of water – in the hot tub, in the bath tub, in the car on the way home, and apparently late night blogging.

Coffee limit? Grumble grumble grumble. I’m going to see about that. I think I can do this without giving up that vice.

Alcohol limit? No problem, really. I enjoy drinking, but I am going to go Whole30, and that takes out alcohol anyway.

Supplements? Well, I’d need to do those tests. That gets pricey. I’m not sure I’m going to put the money aside for that this time. 

So basically it’s got good ideas.  

And I really started my plan today. I tricked out my breakfast with eggs, El Salvadoran coleslaw, picante sauce, blueberries, and coffee – 250-300 calories. Morning snack was a Granny Smith apple and coffee – 100-150 calories. Lunch was a Market Salad from Chick-Fil-A and coffee – 200 calories. Post-work-out snack was a protein bar – 170 calories. Dinner was eggs, cabbage, cauliflower – 250 calories, and watermelon – yikes calories.  I think I did okay, probably staying in the realm of 1500 calories for the day.


At Odds With Myself


I feel at odds with myself lately.

Last night, it was awful. I didn’t feel like the right size in my own head. The ground felt uneven, curved and broken. I felt like the parts of myself were strung together on a piece of Scotch tape.

This was after a weekend of slight craziness. It was as though nothing was the way it was supposed to be, and yet everything that was supposed to happen actually did – it just didn’t match up to my feelings of expectation. We went to the beach on Galveston island, but it was overcast and therefore cold.

Lately I just don’t tolerate cold very well. I don’t like being cold. I don’t like strong air conditioning. I have taken to eating outside at restaurants, drinking hot coffee, or just craving hot food to keep me feeling warm inside. I mentioned this to a friend last night, and since he works in an ER and has some medical knowledge, he immediately thought of medical reasons, asking if I was anemic.


I shouldn’t think so. I mean, don’t I tend to eat a variety of healthy foods anyway? So then I looked up the iron-rich foods that should be good for anemia, and I realized that I had almost systematically eliminated most of them from my diet.

The People Who Want Your Blood Recommend You Eat This Stuff – Vampire’s Guide to Iron-Rich Blood

Basically, the only foods I had recently been consuming that were high in iron were eggs, chicken and figs, and, to a more sporadic degree spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and watermelon. The animal sources of iron are more easily absorbed than the plant sources, the “heme” iron versus the “non-heme” iron, and combining the two increases the absorption rate for “non-heme” iron. Lastly, if you eat anything with Vitamin C, it increases the iron absorption rate.

So now it gives me some ammunition for menu-planning. It’s not enough to just eat foods on a list, but I need to really plan around specific nutrients and their interactions together.

Oh, and the part I left out is that if you have caffeine or calcium rich foods in conjunction with your iron, you block your iron absorption. This was the least happy news of all to a coffee junkie.

As a matter of fact, I felt that was a personal insult.

I guess I’ll live.

Then I got worried looking at the list of foods because I have been eating a lot of cabbage lately as an inexpensive vegetable of choice that holds up well in the refrigerator over several days. Some vegetables are overly tempermental and need to be used immediately; cabbage is one that you can cut a hunk of it off to eat, wrap the rest up for a few days and then come back to it.

So I did a little digging just now and found a pro-cabbage propaganda page that made me happy:

Crazy Cabbage Lovers’ Page of Rationalizing Their Brassica-Inspired Lust

Okay. So I wasn’t completely bonkers crazy for eating cabbage. Neither am I the Witch of The Nutrition Psychos for wanting more variety in my vegetable choices. Because it looks like not only do you need to plan intelligently, but you need to hit a broad spectrum to get the nutrition you need. And apparently, when I’ve been craving certain foods back in my diet (sweet potatoes), there’s a good reason.

But it looks like there are some “Super Foods” that I need to continue to have as staples:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Almonds
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Salmon

And I need to introduce Kale. Because kale is the new kick-ass vegetable on the block. 

Now, it’s pretty easy to plan a healthy breakfast that hits the major groups because all I need to do is pre-make little breakfast frittatas in muffin pans with eggs and either spinach or broccoli.

More later. I’ve gotta run.


Okay, so breakfast frittatas are easy, because you can make a dozen of them Monday morning and have them to quickly warm up the rest of the week. Pair that with a slice of pre-cooked sweet potato and some berries, and voila! Breakfast!

Lunches are more difficult for me. I need to either have a plan and make ahead several lunches or just make extra at dinner the night before and plan to take the rest as lunch the next day.

And dinners are just plain work. It’s different when I haven’t been running all day, but when I have, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen. I just flat out don’t have the time to do it, nor do I want the clean-up afterwards.  

I suppose I’ll spend the next few months exploring hits and misses with my meals, and I really want to invest some time in planning nutrient-based meals.

90 Day Challenge


I’m participating in this thing called a “90 Day Challenge” through my gym, Lifetime.

First, let me get a few things straight:

  • I’m not doing this for my wedding.
  • I’m not doing this for anyone else.
  • I’m not doing this “to lose weight.”

Yes, as a side effect, I will look a lot better in my wedding dress, but that’s next year. I still have a lot of room to screw up between now and then. Besides, the dress is stretchy anyways.

Okay, and yes, my fiancé might enjoy seeing me slimmer and more toned. And that could be a lot of fun.

Yes, I would enjoy “losing weight” because I would like to see that scale number dip a bit lower. But then there’s always the argument that people don’t believe they are thin enough, toned enough, whatever enough to be happy. I used to think I would be happy if I could just get to the weight I am now. Now that I’m here and have stayed in this weight range reliably for 6 months, I know that it is not the specific weight that matters, but how you feel – and most importantly, how you feel about yourself.

Why am I doing it?

I am doing it to feel in control of my body. I’m doing it to reach for my potential. I’m doing it to fit into clothes I want to wear. I’m doing it to tone and transform.

This week, I was thinking about all the things people say when you tell them you’re going to work out.

You don’t need to.

Thank you. It’s a choice, though. I want to work out. It makes me feel good in my mind and my body. It keeps my trick knee from killing me. It releases endorphins and I feel more at peace with my life. I am a better worker, parent, and person when I get my chosen work outs. Also, the doctor told me I need a steady regime to keep off blood pressure medication.

But you’re already great at…

Thanks! I’m flattered that you think so. I know I can do some things well, but I also know where I am striving to improve. I’ve seen the things some other people can do. If I keep with my routine – and change it up a little for maximum benefit – I might reach my personal goals of being able to do different things. I couldn’t always do a handstand. I only got that through consistent practice, and I have so much more I want to be able to do.

Surely skipping one day won’t hurt.

True. Sometimes it’s even good to skip a day, or at least an afternoon to rest. You can approach the next work out with more energy. However, I’ve got to do something, or I’ll lose some of my hard-earned flexibility. I might even re-injure my knee if I don’t keep it in use. The next time I try to do something I know I can do, I might injure myself because I might be stiff or sore or inflexible. You don’t hear my joints pop and creak when I’ve missed a day. You don’t feel the stiffness in my knee when I haven’t taken the time to work it carefully, slowly, thoughtfully. You don’t feel the tightness in my shoulders or my legs when I try to go into a posture. On the same note, only I know how it feels to sink straight into what I want to do because I’ve already put the work in and I’m maintaining. Only I know how it feels to me when I realize I’m the only one in class with the flexibility to get the posture I want. It’s a heady feeling, and it immediately humbles me to think of how far I still have to go.

Why do you spend so much time at the gym?

First, I like the people at the gym. I feel welcome, so it feeds my soul to go and be around my gym friends. They want nothing out of me. All I need to do is work out, be myself, and kibitz. I don’t owe them work; I don’t need to volunteer to help run something; and I don’t need to make my life pretty for them. I can just be. Also, I know myself. Sure, I could work out at home or just go bike riding with my kids. Does that push me? Does that make me put out my full effort? No. I always hold back. I’m riding rear guard to make sure I’m there if someone crashes or falls behind. I get interrupted at home. I’m not challenged enough by myself. I see other people, I not only get inspired, I also have a streak of competitiveness that drives me to see if I can do something at least as well (if not better) than the people around me. It takes an hour for a class, plus fifteen minutes around it for transit time. Add in a shower at any point, and I’ve dedicated about one and a half to two hours for one work out. And I really need about two each day to get where I need to be.

You’re not fat.

Thank you. In my head, I am the fat chick. I self-identify with the fat chicks. I look at the skinny, lean, beautiful women, and I put myself outside of their group. I even look at the yoga teachers in all their grace and muscles and feminine curves and strength and beauty, and I can only admire them. Even though a number of people recently have told me that I should be a yoga teacher, in my head, I’m not good enough yet – and not just in needing to develop and hone skills, but also in looking like someone who treats her own body as a temple. (The super funny thing about this comment was I even got that last night. A guy was talking about how he likes skinny chicks – like size 2 skinny – and he was trying to make a point that “Big Beautiful Women” think they deserve “Fabios.” As he was talking, he’s was like, “Not girls like you – you’re not fat.” And I’m wondering how I must look to him with my current wonderful little muffin top rolling over my gym shorts.)

What do you do with your kids?

Thanks for asking. Are you volunteering to babysit for me? Honestly, I pay for child care at the gym, and I try to arrange some of my work outs to coincide with fun kids’ activities at the gym so that they get something out of going, too. I’ve begun experimenting with allowing my daughters increasing levels of responsibility, staying at home by themselves while I’m at the gym. I constantly juggle day care, gym child care, play dates, and self-reliance. Occasionally, I’ll even take them with me to a class. The thing is, most of the time when people ask this question, they don’t really want to know what you do; they’re horrified that you are doing something without your children and want to shame you into their concept of appropriate behavior. These are frequently the women who don’t work outside the home and cannot conceive of not having time to work out while their kids are at school. These women also are usually married, so they can leave the kids with their husband and have no worries.

Here are some things people could do to be supportive:

  • Positive remarks on my progress. If you see that I can do something I couldn’t do before or you see a change in my attitude or physical being, say something nice.
  • Share a recipe with me for something that looks healthy. I don’t care if I can eat it or not based on my meal plan. It’s the thought that counts. Really.
  • Talk to me about what you’re doing. Tell me about the stuff you’re trying to reach your own goals. It doesn’t have to be health or fitness related – I am genuinely interested in your progress because I want to be your cheering section, too.
  • Offer to come with me to a class or have me join you in one of your favorite classes. There are few things more motivating to me than working out with a friend.
  • Talk me up when I want to quit. If I’ve had a rough day, remind me how much better I’ll feel after I go to the gym. Don’t be too kind to me. I probably just want to curl up in a cave and drink alcohol and eat myself into a carb coma. Encourage me to get out there are reach my goals. I’ll feel better when I have done something toward my goal.
  • Invite me to go do something fun or exciting – or just to have a cup of coffee. Whatever you’ve got going on that lights a fire in you, invite me along. I’m a pretty social little butterfly, but I don’t get out much, and I have fewer going out friends than you might think.
  • Ask about my progress. Show interest in the little gains I make. I know they might mean nothing to you, really, but fake it just a little. You know a fake orgasm is only fake for the person faking it. 

Anyhow, Monday is my weigh-in day. I really start my challenge August 11, after I get back from seeing my BFF. 

My goal is to make a measurable difference in my body fat percentage, increase my strength and stamina, tone my core and thighs, and see more definition in my shoulders and back. Food-wise, I want to be more consistent with water intake, reduce toxins in my system, and find a meal plan that is tenable for the long haul.

The Keurig Curse


I drink coffee.

I like coffee.

If I’m at home, I have a pot in the morning and a pot at night, basically.

And I am happy.

However, at my fiancé’s house, he doesn’t have a coffee pot.

This does not mean I live without coffee. This just means that I drink expensive coffee. Because he has a Keurig. Which means that you must commit to a cup of coffee – one cup at a time.  There is no “topping up.” There is no “finishing off the pot.” There is a single cup. And they cost anywhere from 40 cents to 75 cents each.

To people who do not drink a lot of coffee, this is no major consideration. 

To me, it’s a line item on my budget.

I feel like a drug addict going to a pusher when I grocery shop these days. Do you have any K-cups? How much? If I get the 18 pack, is there a price break? Do you have hazelnut?

I can spend ten bucks at home and have coffee for a month and a half. 

I spend ten bucks on K-cups to eek me through a scant week.

That’s maybe the only real reason I’m looking forward to seeing my $9 Wal-Mart coffee pot. I may not have to sell a kidney to afford my coffee.

Let’s Go Sa-a-a-ling!


Dolphins! Live dolphins, cavorting in the water just a few feet away from me, in the open water! And, further behind us, dolphins splashing each other, leaping out of the water in graceful grey arcs. It was a memorable afternoon, indeed.

An afternoon that was four months in the making:

So, late, late, late one evening, I was shopping at Wal-Mart, trying to get the Easter Bunny supplies with which to surprise my kids, and I was talking to my (then) boyfriend on the phone while he was up waiting, watching a computer server to see if it had any problems during a specific time period. 

Now, he had been mentioning things like, “Well, when we are married…” or “I firmly see us being married in the future…” or “I’ll need to start thinking of taking four people on vacation instead of just me because when we are married, I’ll have the girls and you to think about…”

So, one day, I point-blank asked him, “Did I miss something? Some major life-status-changing question? Because I think I missed a question somewhere.”

To which he dodged, “No, you didn’t miss anything. It’s just that, although I haven’t asked yet, I believe that we will eventually be married, and sooner rather than later.”

Now this is just the kind of cocky attitude a girl can sort of like. Because, it really says I like you. I really, really like you. I think you’re so amazing that I’m beginning to frame the rest of my life, my future, around thoughts of you in it. I’m not ready to ask for that commitment yet, but I am visualizing it to get the mental taste of it; I’m talking it out to feel its flavor on my tongue, and I’m even saying it to you, exposing my tender underbelly to you to see if you’ll shoot me down or run with me.

And the thing was, even though I’d sworn vehemently up and down, side to side, zig-zag, diagonally, forwards and backwards that I was NOT going to ever get married again, EVER… The thing was… I hadn’t counted on him.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s not perfect. It’s just that… Well… He seemed to be really kind of perfect for me. And everything he said, everything he did, well, it only reinforced this idea that maybe here was a great guy, a really, really great guy… who liked me and would fit like that one funky-shaped puzzle piece – you know, the one that you think Okay, there is so NOT a puzzle piece made to fit here. I must’ve put this darn thing together wrong! OMG! There really IS a piece shaped like that, but it was hiding under all the normal pieces… 

So I really never corrected him. I really never told him that I would never marry again, that I liked him all well and all, but that he was barking up the wrong tree if he was looking for Commitment Woman ™.

And by not correcting him, he started to feel more and more comfortable tossing that “M” word around. And I started to get accustomed to the idea instead of reacting viscerally to it.

And then, that night, wandering around Wal-Mart in the dead of the night, I asked him what his idea of the perfect wedding would be.

And it was this: a small, intimate wedding on his friend’s sailboat, with twelve people maximum, married by the ship’s captain on the open water, sailing up to a restaurant where friends and family were waiting, having the reception there, and then sailing away to have our honeymoon, possibly with the first night spent onboard.

And that sounded wonderful.

A small wedding? Something that wouldn’t highlight the fact that I have no blood family I’d want at a wedding? Not being married in a church with all the hype, hysteria, and hoo-ha? Having the reception at a restaurant where there was no concern for decoration, food preparation, clean-up, or any of the other million and one considerations? Having a unique and memorable wedding? Sign me up. No, really, sign me up!

So then that became the mental image – a sailboat wedding.

And a few months later when he proposed to me while on vacation, I was already ready for him to talk about marriage. I was already prepared to contemplate taking the plunge again.

Then it became kind of humorous because he was so exuberant and euphoric over having proposed (and being accepted, naturally) that he started planning an exotic destination wedding with all the bells and whistles.

That’s when I stuck up my little paw and reminded him gently that hadn’t he wanted the sailboat wedding? Wouldn’t that be nicer? Close to home? Easier on family and friends? Cheaper and more memorable? And that brought him tenderly back to reality.

So one mission of his became to reconnect with his friend with the sailboat and see if we could all perhaps go out for a little cruise to see what the ship would be like and to iron out some details about what a shipboard wedding would entail.

This week, it came through. We were able to arrange to go out one afternoon in the middle of the week between his friend’s paying charters, just the girls, my fiancé, and me. We hightailed it down to the coast as soon as he could peel himself away from work, and we were greeted with a beautiful breezy balmy afternoon.

Jim and Elaine, the captain and first mate, gave us the quick safety speech, and then they cast off, motoring the short distance out of the harbor and into the bay where the sails were unfurled, the wind bit into them, and the ship danced across the water. 

And I fell in love – again.

It seems to be a year for that.

Here I fell in love with a guy, fell in love with scuba diving, fell in love with travel, and fell in love with sailing.

It wasn’t just seeing the dolphins plunging and leaping in the waves alongside us. It wasn’t just the beauty of the ship and the feel of the sea spray splashing up over the deck on my legs. It was the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, listening to nothing but the splash of the bow against the water and the whistle of the lines as I realized that the ship was under just the power of the wind. Seeing the joy and rejuvenation of spirit on my fiancé’s face when he trimmed the sails, seeing the excitement in my daughters as they navigated along the deck, and feeling my own spirit calm, I knew that this was right. 

The dolphins stayed with us for nearly half an hour, before us, behind us, beside us, beneath us. As we sailed back in to the harbor, the flying fish danced in the sunlight for us, windsurfers dodged around us, pelicans perched on pillars occasionally fanning their wings, and I reclined on the foredeck in a bean bag, the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, and my younger daughter curled up contentedly beside me.

On the way off the boat and to the car, my fiancé whispered to me, “I finally got Jim to name a price for the wedding. Remember how I’d been thinking it was going to cost upwards of two thousand dollars? Well, since we have been friends for so long, he said he would do it for under five hundred! And that barely compensates him for fuel and supplies, let alone wear and tear from having a group on the boat and missing out on the proceeds from a weekend charter in the summer.”

That basically means that we got the officiant, the venue, the supplies – everything, everything that you’d “need” to get married – for less than 1/6 the cost of any other wedding venue?

This afternoon, while browsing through Costco, my fiancé was kind of chortling to me, “You know, we’re going to have one of the most awesome weddings, and it’s on a shoestring budget! The most expensive thing we’re going to have is the party, and that’s not even going to set us back that much depending on where we have it and what we do.”

So you heard it here first, folks: the sailboat wedding is a go!