Sunday, March 30, 2003

Atkins Update: The Good, the Bad, and the... Messy?

It's been 2 weeks of my Atkins diet and I'm down 5 pounds. Well, it's not quite been 2 weeks, because I jumped off the wagon on Friday night. I'd been beginning to go a little crazy the last few days of last week, unable to think of anything but what I couldn't eat. That's no way to live, so I decided that I needed a short breather. Some pizza, several beers, and a few hours later, I was full, but still not feeling better. I woke up Saturday morning feeling terrible. Note to Kris: I certainly never felt this bad after carbs before; my body must have lost its tolerance. I decided, however, to spend one more day in carb-land, eating those things I'd been missing. I didn't go too crazy: had Atkins-friendly breakfast and dinner, but ate lots o' movie popcorn, a very tasty cherry mocha shake, and a few glasses of red wine before the day was done. Today, I'm back on board, ready to lose at least 5 (and maybe 10 or 15) more pounds. My current plan, however, is to take a day or so off every 2 weeks, just for my sanity.

Here are some notes from the last few days for those looking for inspiring low-carb meals and snacks:

The Good:
Omelette with spinach, feta cheese, and artichoke hearts
Grilled halibut with a tomato/olive/anchoivy sauce
Chicken taco salad with fresh guacamole and cilantro sour cream

The Bad:
Sauted lettuce (I mixed it up with escarole)
Cobb salad made with escarole (they really look similar) and too many hard boiled eggs

The Messy:
Homemade coffee frappe; it got everywhere, and just tasted like cold, watery coffee

Friday, March 28, 2003

Friday Five

1. What was your most memorable moment from the last week? I think it may have been while climbing at the gym last Sunday. Rock climbing takes skill, strength, and a little bravery (I'm not a fan of heights), so when I successfully got to the top of a climb, I really felt good about what I had done.

2. What one person touched your life this week? Whoever wrote the script for About Schmidt. I saw that film last weekend, and I keep thinking about it: what it means to get older, and what we'll have in our lives that is meaningful. My grandfather was ill this past week, so it just brings that close to home.

3. How have you helped someone this week? I recommended that we grant $15K in United Way venture funds to support an organization that will help un- and under-employed people get the skills and contacts to find work. My recommendation was approved, so a check is in the mail.

4. What one thing do you need to get done by this time next week? Mid-year performance appraisals. I have 3 to do that are due on Wednesday, but essentially, I need to finish them today or I'm doing them this weekend.

5. What one thing will you do over the next seven days to make your world a better place? Buy bio-diesel for my car.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Reality TV: What Not To Watch

It seems like you can't escape reality TV these days; I'm beginning to forget what a laugh track is. I tried to watch one of my favorite fictional shows last night only to find it pre-empted by the number one reality show these days: War Coverage. That's one that I'm not watching. I try to listen to NPR to and from work to keep up with what's going on, but don't want to spend my evening burning the images of war into my head. It just makes me sad.

So, on to other reality TV. I watched American Idol for the first and last time last night. 'Nough said about that.

I am positively addicted to RR/RW Battle of the Sexes. First, there's the fun of watching the new episode on Monday night. Then on Tuesday, I look forward to reading Melissa and Colin's reviews and inside scoop (only problem there is that they usually say essentially the same thing; it would be great to have another insider opinion coming from outside of their clique). Later Tuesday or Wednesday, I can check my fantasy BOTS score; I'm in the top 5% of all of the TV viewer participants. This week was a particularly good episode (what am I saying; I like them all), where we learned the true reason that Emily is playing others to get Veronica kicked off: the green-eyed monster has taken over. Fun stuff.

And now for the best reality TV that's on today: March Madness!! Sweet Sixteen play begins today, baby! (I just hope that Duke can heat up to beat its competition!) I also wish that I was as good at picking basketball winners as I am at picking my BOTS dream team....

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Trail Note

Wednesday was my first run after the 2 week exercise hiatus (while my rib was recovering). I went around the short neighborhood loop. I tried the loop again on Thurday, and then went for a run up to the Zoo and back yesterday morning. It's really spring here now! It's fairly light by 6 am (I could actually run in daylight in the morning before work and arrive at the office at a reasonable time), and stays light until almost 7 pm. The daffodills are out, the crocuses have come and gone, the cherry trees have bloomed, the rhodies and azalias are starting to come out, and there is a green smell to the air.

I'm a bit worried, however, that my friends' reservation about Atkins ("how do you have energy to workout without carbs") may be a very real one. Atkins says that his plan helps people gain energy, and my energy levels are great during the day at the office and puttering around the house. Once I get running, however, my legs feel dead, like I just went on a long run the day before and used up all of my energy reserves. And I have used up all of my energy reserves, burning fat. This feeling may be due to the fact that I'm just getting back into running, and my muscles aren't back to their old form, but I don't think that I could ever really train at this carb level. I'm not training for anything now, however, and I know that once I shake these 20 pounds (only 15 now still to go!) and get back to a higher carb level that I'll be a better runner than ever before.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Friday Five (man, this week has flown!)

1. If you had the chance to meet someone you've never met, from the past or present, who would it be? A couple famous historically relavent people come to mind, like Thomas Jefferson or Louisa May Alcott. What I think I would really like, however, is to meet my parents or grandparents when they were my age, as friends.

2. If you had to live in a different century, past or future, which would it be? This one. I used to think that it would be romantic to live in a time long ago, but I don't even like camping; who wants a life without washing machines and hot showers? I also wouldn't want to live in a time when I was not considered a person of intelligence with equal rights as men. The future is just a little too scary and uncomfortable for me, so I wouldn't want to move forward.

3. If you had to move anywhere else on Earth, where would it be? London. I've always wanted to live there.

4. If you had to be a fictional character, who would it be? Another difficult one. As a little girl I would imagine myself as a character in one of L.M. Alcott or L.M. Montgomery books, or Princess Lea. The character that I think I would be most comfortable as, however, is Vicki Austen (one of Madeline L'Engles recurring characters).

5. If you had to live with having someone else's face as your own for the rest of your life, whose would it be? I'm totally copying Kristen's answer (the only 5 that I've read today), and say my sister's. Like mine, but a little prettier.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

The Balloon Has Gone Up

I just felt sad as I heard the news driving home last night (guess the benefit of leaving work a little late was hearing the NPR coverage as things happened, including Mr. Bush's speech). I think I approve of this targeted, low casualty approach, however. I hope that this continues.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Just say "no" to carbs

Well, I've bought into the brainwashing and am trying the Atkins plan. I bought the book last week (in the Orlando airport) and started the program yesterday. I think that I've eaten more eggs in 2 days than I usually eat in a month (3 yesterday, 3 today). I haven't been hungry since I began the program: for example this morning I ate my cheese omelet at 6:30 and at 11:30 I still wasn't really hungry for lunch, but ate it anyway since I won't have time later this afternoon. I used to eat breakfast in the car on the drive into work a little later (7 or so) and would be hungry by 11 am. I'm eating food that I like, but that makes me a little queasy, like tuna salad. It takes fine, but I hate the way it looks and smells. I'm trying to block the fact that I just ate a large portion of it.

After almost 20 years of "watching my weight" (i.e. feeling guilty for eating "bad" foods), this diet is very counter-intuitive. It's strange to have to closely watch how much lettuce and other veggies I eat, while I can put as much butter and (sugar free) salad dressing on them as I like. I'm actuaully eating things that I haven't eaten since I was a kid, like cream cheese celery logs and olives from the jar and buttery veggies. Reading the book, I was convinced that I'd lose some weight, but it doesn't seem possible now that I'm not hungry and eating fatty stuff.

It's also amazing how difficult it is to find low-carb, full-fat foods. All of the ground beef was extra lean, the dairy products were skim, and the salad dressings were low fat. And everything that is processed contains sugar or corn syrup or some derivative of sweetner. I thought that my first grocery cart-full of Atkins diet food would look gross: all meat and fatty stuff, but in fact it looked a little healthier than usual: no pre-packaged, highly processed foods, sugar, snacks, or alcohol, with lots of veggies.

I've been telling people for the last week that I was planning on doing this, and just about everyone you tell knows someone who's lost lots of weight on the program. My concern, however, is that the book and the program seem designed for inactive people with a large amount of weight to lose. I'm a pretty active person, and only want to lose 20 lbs (well, I wouldn't be upset if I could lose a little more). I hope that all of the "science" still applies. :)

Friday, March 14, 2003

It's March. It's Madness. Yee Hah!!!

Okay, now I'm off to watch Duke vs Virginia. For those not from ACC land, as a Dukie hailing from the Old Dominion State, I can say that it will be a battle between teams that have the most obnoxiously cocky student bodies in existance.
It's the Friday Five

1. Do you like talking on the phone? Why or why not? No; I prefer speaking in person. I'm not sure exactly why this is; probably had something to do with how shy I used to be. I even used to hate making routine administrative calls, like changing my mailing address. I'm not as shy anymore, but I still hate making phone calls. It's something that I need to force myself to do at work, and I would probably be more successful if I were. I'm also horrible about returning social voicemails (and emails as well).

2. Who is the last person you talked to on the phone? I was on a conference call yesterday afternoon with my extended team in Richmond. My last social call was when I called Jeff on my way home Tuesday night.

3. About how many telephones do you have at home? My mobile phone acts as my home phone as well. Jeff does the same. Dennis has a land line in the basement and his mobile phone, so 4 total, but 1 is the only one that is mine with my number.

4. Have you encountered anyone who has really bad phone manners? What happened? Frequently. Whether or not my parents liked one of my friends was largely based on phone manners. I find it a huge turn-off if someone is rude on the phone, doesn't introduce themself or say hello. I can't think of a recent specific example of poor phone manners, however.

5. Would you rather pick up the phone and call someone or write them an e-mail or a letter? Why or why not? I would rather make a phone call because it's faster and easier. If I don't really want to speak with someone and would rather leave a message, I'll drop an email (although I love the compose feature on my voicemail at work). Usually the reason I wouldn't want to speak with someone directly is because I'm so embarrassed at how I've failed to call or write them back.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

M. O. U. S. Eeee.

I get nostalgic every time I travel to Florida. I find that there's a certain smell, of rain, and heat, and tropical flowers, that I can detect the moment that I walk out of the airport, that just takes me back to my childhood, and early adulthood. I've made the annual trip to Florida just about every year that I can remember (a few years were missed while at sea). As a kid, we'd pile in the car to visit the grandparents. Most of those trips were made sans Dad, during our summer vacations when he was out at sea. I'd have a box full of library books (the checkout limit was 10, and I'd max that out every time), Barbies, and coloring books with new crayons (to melt as we drove through Florida in the summer). This was back in the day before we wore seatbelts, and my sister and made wonderful nests in the back of the station wagon. This was one trip where it was more fun to sit in the back and play and read and spread out. We'd alternate front and back every time. We'd usually go someplace educational (Savanah, Charleston, St. Augustine) along the way, or visit Disney World on the way home. We had our favorite restaurants, and had must-do activities (look for turtle nests, or go snorkeleing). I think I gained 5 pounds every time that I visited Florida. This was fine when I grew a few inches every summer; less fun when I stopped growing taller at age 12.

My second set of Florida memories are from when I was in the Navy. I lived in Orlando for 6 months while in Nuclear Power School. I had already been on my first ship, was a qualified Surface Warfare Office, and was a salty LTJG (every day and in every way becoming a better and better Lieutenant Junior Grade...) I'd heard that power school was a nightmare of studying and stress, but after 18 months at sea, it was a blast. I made some great friends, two of which are my housemates today. I was also lucky to be in Florida during the winter, when the weather is fantastic: sunny and 75 just about every day. This is when I really started running regularly, and completed my first half marathon.

It all came back to me as I drove that rental car up I-95 along the Florida coast on Sunday. Memory is a funny thing.
K. E. Y. Why, Because We Like You!

I spent the remainder of my time out East with my other grandmother and her husband at their condo in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. It's only an hour away from where we boarded the ship in Port Canaveral, so it was great to be able to see so much family on one visit. The weather wasn't that great (cool and rainy), but after 3 days of sweating and trying not to burn, the cloudy skies were welcome. We had a terrific visit, sharing family stories and memories, and (as always) learning about the fascinating things that my family member have done and experienced in their lives.

I was fortunate to time my trip on the tale end of Bike Week. For the unitiated, Bike Week is the week every March when thousands of motorcyclists decend upon Daytona Beach. In recent years, their presence has expanded to outlying beaches, like New Smyrna. It doesn't hurt that there's a Harley shop just off the New Smyrna exit from I-95. While the rainy weather didn't bother me, I think it damped the experience for those bikers who planned on camping throughout their visit. When it rains in Florida, it really rains!
M. I. C. See Ya Real Soon!

I spent my weekend on a 3 day Disney cruise to the Bahamas. My grandmother (maternal) got the idea from her neighbor, whose family had all gone on one together, and had a great time, regardless of age and initial scepticism. My other grandmother (paternal) has done a lot of cruising ("cruising" is the sanctioned cruise line term), and has highly recommended this cruise for years. So my grandparents, parents, sister, aunt and uncle, and 2 cousins all boarded the Disney Wonder last Thursday for 3 days of family fun. (For those who are wondering, the youngest member of my family is my cousin, who celebrated his 25th birthday the last day of the cruise.) We had a great time (as the staff kept reminding us). All sarcasm aside, it really was a good time. The ship was lovely, the staff professional and courteous, the kids cute, the "adult only" areas really were adult only, and the weather was perfect. Some highlights:

- The animals created from towels that we found in our rooms every night when the beds were turned down (the second night I was startled by the monkey hanging from the ceiling; the third night I was tickled by the elephant wearing my sister's sunglasses)
- The first drinky-drink enjoyed on deck as the sun began to set on a warm day, about to get underway
- The ship's whistle as it sounded the one long blast as we got underway (it was to the tune of "when you wish upon a star")
- The little girls in their Disney princess dresses (and the number of times my family joked "if only there was one big enough for Tricia")
- The fact that you could catch a Disney cartoon on TV any time day or night
- The cruise director's dry wit, which made even the entering port brief entertaining
- Hearing my normally reserved sister admit that she couldn't help but hug Dale after getting her picture with Chip and Dale ("he was just so cute")
- The Chihuly glass chandelier
- The amazing conch salad that I ate in Nassau
- The joy that my grandmother had in watching all of us enjoy ourselves together (this was the first time that we've all been together in almost 10 years)

Okay, I have time to breathe. Have you ever felt like you're skiing down a mountain after being dropped at the top by helocopter? That's how I've felt these last two days. I returned from Florida on Tuesday, arriving home at about 8 pm pacific (but my body was still feeling 11 pm eastern). I returned to my 12 voicemails and 200 emails and an 8 am meeting in the office on Wednesday, and this is my first meeting free hour today (as I write it's 4:30 pm). But it's good to be home.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

On the Injured List

After a little snowboard injury (getting off of the lift; my major source of bumps and bruises) on Saturday, I think that I may have a broken rib. Other potential injuries are a separated rib (cartilege separates from the bone) or a bruised rib. The pain is similar for all of these; the only difference is severity. My symptoms include pain to the touch, pain when I run, pain when I breathe deeply (or sneeze or burb, excuse me), pain getting in and out of the car, and especially pain when I try to lie down, sleep on my side, roll over in bed, or get up out of bed.

The only thing to do for any of these is rest, which for me will be very hard. I'm going on a Disney cruise this weekend, which I planned to be a great time for warm weather running and swimming, I'm going on a snowboarding trip the following weekend, and I'm supposed to be training up for my next half marathon, which is in about 6 weeks. Grr....

Update: Upon a work friend's urging, I went to the doctor. It's only bruised, so I just need to rest for 2 weeks and take massive amounts of ibuprophen. Whenever I go to the doctor and find that I don't have the worse case scenario and am just given advice to rest and eat Motrin, I feel a little silly. I guess, however, that it's better to feel a litte silly and be out $15 and 90 minutes to confirm that I don't have a collapsed lung and/or fracture (and, no, according to the doctor it's not immediately obvious that one has a collapsed lung).

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Mardi Gras Musings

So today is Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. I was alerted to this fact after wondering aloud as to why the ski slope was covered with yellow and purple balloons on Saturday. To celebrate Mardi Gras, of course.

Every year that I was in college, I traveled down to New Orleans the weekend before Mardi Gras (14+ hour bus ride) with the rest of the Duke NROTC drill team to participate in a drill competition at Tulane and to march in the Crew de Iris parade. We'd arrive on Thursday, just sample the party on Thursday night, compete on Friday, enjoy the party on Friday night, march on Saturday, and let it all hang out on Saturday night, leaving late that night (early the next morning) to arrive on campus tired, hungover, and cranky Sunday night. I do want to return to New Orleans one of these days, to see the city under normal circumstances. I never feel the need to go during Mardi Gras.

It's funny that to a lot of people in the U.S., today is all about booze and beads and bare breasts. To some fellow bloggers, today is all about pancakes. To the BBC, today is second only to Christmas as a favorite religious holiday. To those who are very religious, today is about confession. To me, today is just another Tuesday, trying to get some work done before trivia tonight.

I did pick up some trivial tidbits. The pancakes, for example, are to use up all of that fat and milk and egg that should not be eaten during Lent. There are 40 days of Lent, which is a common Biblical number (40 days of Noah's flood, the Hebrews' 40 years in the wilderess, Moses' 40 days of fasting before receiving the 10 commandments), thought to come from Jesus' 40 days fasting in the wilderness preparing for his ministry. 40 is also the number of weeks of a full term human pregnancy. Hmm....

Anyway, have fun and enjoy those pancakes or beads or mombo or whatever. Spring is coming.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Six Feet Under... HBO's award winning series that started it's 3rd season last night the show my housemates and I just began watching on DVD (season 1 only) this last week

...features the cemetary in my neighborhood that I ran by yesterday how deep a man was buried in snow to train avalanche rescue dogs (I read his account of the experience this weekend)