Project Finish Line: Week 7 and Holy Moly Carb Cycling Works!

I’m happy to report that, despite a weekend in Dallas drinking and carousing with my best friend followed by a pretty off week, I weighed in Saturday morning at 155 lbs (down from last week!). I won’t be taking measurements again until January, but my pants are now lose enough that they’re hanging a bit lower and making me look slightly sloppy. But only slightly. Nowhere near a size 8 yet. 😉

No one ever said it was easy achieving the things you want, and tackling 3 major goals all in just under a year is no exception.

In addition to writing a book, going to Europe, and regaining the glory of a size 8 (yes, a size 8 for me is glory – I just don’t have a skinny girl frame, okay? Caution: Curves Ahead) I’ve been on a bit of a personal journey since my dad died in 2012, and over the last couple of months that journey’s gotten jacked up a notch. While necessary, I’ve found it’s also a bit mentally – and oddly physically – exhausting.

Compound that with an unpredictable, stressful, and highly change-prone job, and life is a bit…complicated…at the moment.

But that’s the thing – Life. Is. Complicated.

All we can do is try to know ourselves well enough to navigate the inevitably and often times constantly rough waters without drowning. No easy feat.

So what does this have to do with Operation Finish Line? Two things.

First, while I’ve been continuing to (mostly) eat the 5 small meals a day required by Chris Powell’s Carb Cycling nutrition plan, I’ve not been doing well with eating the right things. Happily, I’ve not gone totally off the deep end either. In fact, a weird thing is happening to me: I’m not that hungry, and I’m not murdering people as a result of not eating that much.

Example: Yesterday (a bad day by any carb cycler’s standard), I ate cereal with blueberries, a handful of almonds, some chicken nuggets, and about 5 bites of a chicken bowl from Chipotle, and possibly a Quest protein bar. (Side notes: Quest protein bars are my absolute favorite healthy snack on earth!) And I wasn’t hungry. I’m also not experiencing any cravings! Is this real life????

Second, I know a serious challenge is coming my way.

Thanksgiving.

Yes, my friends, the day when even the most devout gym-bunnies and dieteers are victim to obscene amounts of irresistibly tasty noms and nibbles. And my house is no different. In fact, as a teenager married and living near a military base, I learned early how to prepare a meal fit for kings – or in my case, a group of hungry single soldiers who needed a bit of home and family while they were far from their own.

And now? Now I’m The Queen of Thanksgiving.

Alton Brown’s Super Apple Pie? Done.

What? Like it's hard?

What? Like it’s hard?

Or perhaps you’re more a Bourbon Pecan Pie kind of person? Then eat your heart out.

I like to think I'm a humble woman, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, well...I'm a goddess.

I like to think I’m a humble woman, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, well…I’m a goddess.

But wait!! No! DO NOT EAT YOUR HEART OUT!

I’ve come too far too far to totally derail now. So the plan is to load up on the yummy turkey breast (in moderation of course), naturally sweeten the cranberries and go easy on them, take small portions of the other greatness, and then keep some veggies hanging around to fill in any holes that might remain. My other trick is to cook just enough for the guests I’ll have and then load them up with leftovers.

Et voila!

Staying on track.

What’s your plan to enjoy all the scrumptious selections without backsliding past the point of no return?

Advertisements

Project Finish Line: 6 Weeks Later…

I’m not entirely convinced it’s not The Dress that’s making me look like I’ve made progress, but my doctor’s office scale corroborates the story that I’ve been Carb Cycling and exercising…

 

Hello again, friends! 

Because I’m the incredible sand-bagger that I am, my last Project Finish Line blog post was written weeeeeks ago, and I just posted it last week. What can I say? I wanted to make sure I maintained the time and commitment to do what I set out to do and, in fact, keep you posted as I promised. 

If you’ll recall, I set out to 1. Finish my novel, 2. Go to Europe, and 3. Get to a size 8 within 11 (now only 8 1/2 months) with YOU as my source of accountability. 

So, in the words of my all-time favorite guilty pleasure show (Supernatural!!!) – here’s The Road So Far (someone cue Kansas’ Carry on Wayward Son)….

Let’s talk the journey to a Size 8 first. 

I’ve been working out with a trainer at my gym since at least May, but only very sporadically due to my crazy work schedule and a lot of travel. We did 12 sessions together, and while I only experienced a few unsustained loss of pounds, I learned so much and really started to enjoy the gym. I go as often as I can now, my goal being a minimum of 3 days a week – but let’s face it, that’s not always possible for me. BUT – I’m going and I LOVE it. Progress!!

Where I knew I was falling down was with my nutrition. My thyroid is supposedly fine, and for a while I was restricting myself to 1200-1500 calories a day of things like green smoothies, chicken breast, low fat cottage cheese, fruit, blah, blah, blah. The progress was soooooooo agonizingly slooow. And for a borderline poster child for ADHD and Aries personified, slow progress with so much work meant that I quit. 

Repeatedly. 

Something had to change. Something had to WORK!

Enter Extreme Weigh Loss and the over-the-top-motivated-ever-faithful Chris Powell and his unfairly gorgeous and sweet friend & wife, Heidi. I’ve watched the show off and on for years – I love a good Underdog Overcomes story of hope and perseverance. After watching an episode about a woman who stands at something like four feet who ran a full marathon in Hawaii and NEVER QUIT, I was inspired to pick up one of Chris’s books and start following him on FB and via his and Heidi’s blogs. 

I picked up Choose More, Lose More For Life – a very basic book about transformation through exercise and Chris’s Carb-Cycling nutrition plan. 

The verdict?

Holy sh*t it actually works. 

It’s easy, I dont’t feel hungry or deprived, I can still eat the stuff I enjoy (I’m doing the Turbo Cycle, so I do cheat days on the weekend), and frankly I’m totally NOT doing it perfectly and STILL getting results. 

7 pounds down since I started 4-ish weeks ago (prior to that I was just doign the calorie counting thing that helped me lose about 3 pounds over a 6-month period…). This inclues two weekends of travel out of state wherein I was NOT following the plan but being very careful – or perhaps intentional is the right word – about what I was eating. Even as I write, I am at the airport on my way to Dallas for the weekend, where I’m guaranteed to not eat or exercise according to plan. (Or at all in the case of exercise. I’m bad. Bad to the bone.)

 

Now how about that novel?

I have nothing to report. I have made some very half-hearted attempts to write, but it seems the mood is only striking me at times when I don’t have access/time to perform the actual act of writing. My iPad Mini keeps me plugged into my journal and the blogosphere, but not so much to my book. 

Any suggestions on how I can overcome this particcular hurtle???

 

As to Europe, well…


Two things are happening on that front. First, there is a plan in place to pay off my credit card debt by moving the balances to a zero-interest card, and begin making between $500-$700 payments each month. I’m going to give this plan an 80% success rate. Holidays, a need for new tires on my Suby, and a broken dishwasher have slowed the progress in the last month or two, but I’m still plugging away. Additionally, I’ve done probably the oddest – and tackiest – thing on earth and developed a gift registry for Christmas and upcoming birthdays/holidays to help w/ expenses. More to come on how my family responds…. 😉

 

So here we are, with 26-ish weeks to go and B average on deck. I’m not giving up. I’m NOT quitting. 

What will YOU do in the next 26 weeks?

Project Finish Line: The Genesis

Wearing 10 lbs of reclaimed clothing doesn’t help anyone look thinner….

Want to start hiking? Screw that 30-minute, 70-foot elevation trail – let’s do the 12 miler!

Dieting? Eff that – let’s do a 7-day juice cleanse!

Twitter? A hundred-character limit is for losers – I’m writing a novel!

You get the idea. I’m the archetypal Aries with a passion for life, boundless positive energy, and…I’m sorry, what was I saying? Oh right – and a short attention span. As much as I hate running (although I’m trying a bit of interval running at the moment…), I find I live life a bit more like a sprinter than a marathoner: quick bursts of impressive energy, and then…I’m stretched out and hitting the showers.

Now, in fairness to myself, I have an incredible work ethic when it comes to actual work – meaning something that ends with a paycheck. I’ve been with the same organization for nearly a decade, having worked my way up from the bottom (Drake, anybody? No? Okay, moving on…). Must be that need for immediate gratification from which I’ve suffered all my life and which has led to my rather impressive shoe (and necklace, earring, and general clothing) collection.

Based on the shoes alone it’s obvious that the marathoner doesn’t necessarily live the superior life.

But I’ve also experienced the rewards that come from commitment and follow through. Now, I’m disciplined, but only insofar as the pursuit of my choosing remains interesting, but as we already talked about I’m not so much for the long attention span.

This is where you come in.

I have three major goals for the next year that require so much planning, hard-work, and marathon-like commitment that I have come to the conclusion that I need to self-impose the kind of accountability and discipline that will…well…make me disciplined and accountable.

What are the goals, you ask? Oh, boy…here we go…

 

Goal 1: Finish my novel.

Yes, I’m a geek writing a novel. I mean, hello, I’m one of the self-indulgent millions who write a blog. Is it that far a jump to being part of the throng of “self-publishing” authors in the world?

It’s important to me to have done it at least once to see if I have a voice worth reading. Or perhaps just to see if I have a voice at all. Do I have anything to say? Moreover, do I have anything of value to say?

I hope to find out.

 

Goal 2: Size 8.

Yes, yes, I know…everyone wants to lose weight and look great, but it’s more than that for me. I want to prove that I can. I want to feel what it’s like to accomplish something that changes my life that way – to be healthier, stronger, to feel better, to feel confident again, and to learn how to take care of my body and maintain this incredible machine we’re all given into a ripe (and preferable diaperless and tooth-having) old age.

I want that feeling. I want that knowledge.

And I want to fit into these two incredible dresses in my closet. I technically still fit inside of them, but I look less like an hourglass wrapped in fablulousness than a pork loin stuffed in a sausage casing.

 

Goal 3: Go to Europe.

Again, I hear you: “Everyone wants to go to Europe.” And, yes, everyone does. But it’s the why that makes this so important to me. I’m not a stupid woman, but I’m also not a genius. I’m no doctor or lawyer or engineer. I’ll probably never be rich, and I wasn’t brought up in a very cultured environment. Hell, I just learned about six months ago that in a formal table setting the bread goes on the left and the drink goes on the right (as taught to me with hand symbol reminders by my awesome boss while at a business luncheon).

I know I am consciously incompetent to what the rest of the world has to offer, and I know I want to change that. I want to dive into new cultures, foreign languages, scary experiences, and great adventures in hopes that I will continue to push my boundaries, open my mind, and ultimately enrich my life and the lives of the people with whom I interact.

And thus commences Project Finish Line:

One woman.

Three life-changing goals.

Eleven months to the finish line, and…

One blog per week the reporting my progress, or lack thereof, to ensure public humiliation as the penance for failure, thereby cementing my commitment. (OMG that’s like 44 blogs. You poor people!!)

So take a deep breath…here we go…

Just One More Minute – I Need to Find an Outfit to Tell the World Who I Want to Be Today…

Among my many other substance abuse problems (think coffee, chocolate, wine, half-finished DIY projects…) I am also a self-admitted Fashion Fanatic. Hopelessly addicted to accessories, inevitably lured by the delicate arch of the perfect high heeled boot, irrevocably attracted to the colors, cuts, draping, patterns, and distressed details of fabric lovingly sewn (or more likely harshly stitched by machines) together to create not just a piece of clothing but a statement.

Yes, this addiction is at total odds with previous posts citing my desire to return to basics a la Walking Dead Wyoming. I do desire that, truly. If I was a machete-wielding zombie-killer survivalist, my attire would only ever consist of boots, jeans, flannel, and any riot gear I could lift of some poor dead sucker.

But, alas, that is not (yet) to be.

And, thus, I am cast in the typical (which in and of itself is atypical for me…) roll of shoe-hoarding girly-girl. And my tastes in fashion are just as eclectic (eccentric) as everything else in which I’m interest. Just check out my Pinterest page.

Though I’ve never run myself into debt over clothing (even I have my limits) I can totally sympathize with Isla Fisher’s character in Confessions of a Shopoholic, and I would almost be willing to undergo the hell of Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada.

I am neither of these incredible ladies, nor do I have anywhere near the bank roll to finance that kind of wardrobe, BUT – I get it. Perhaps I lack the stereotype size 2 figure (reference Featured Image – ha!), the self control to eat a cube of cheese as a meal, nor the superior attitude of the Hollywood portrayal of the fashion forward, but I. DO. Get it.

For many, clothing is simply a method of covering skin in such a way that they’re allowed to frequent places important to basic survival – work, banking establishments, the bar… And they are probably so much more balanced than I am, but oh! How I love that my clothes speak a thousand words before my mouth ever opens.

They help me tell my story in 30 seconds or less. They let me wear the person I want to be at any given moment. I can reinvent myself five times a day. Trade a skirt for ripped up skinny jeans and forego heeled boots in favor of up-cycled combat boots, and poof! – From put-together powerhouse boss-lady to laid-back, fun-loving badass without breaking a sweat. Tadaaaa!

How can you not love that kind of chameleonic transformation? I believe it’s the closest we can come to magic in the real world.

So, yes, I have too many shoes to count, an entire wall dedicated to scarves & jewelry, and an entire closet (and two giant drawers) filled with every many of attire you can think of, but I think of it less as too much clothing and more like a well-stocked communication strategy.

To Thine Own Self Be True

Once in a while something I hear sticks with me in such a way that it is

Even when it seems like the wheel of fate is deciding, you always have a choice.

Even when it seems like the wheel of fate is deciding, you always have a choice.

stored in my personal memory vault of World View information. I would love to say that those dusty corners of my mind are exclusively populated by the likes of Sun Tzu and Henry David Thoreau. The truth is these fine minds oft find themselves in the dining company of Eminem, random movie stars, the occasional anonymous Pinterest quote, and one-liners from others who have briefly yet permanently touched my life.

The Daily Prompt called up a quote from the movie Renaissance Man. (Okay, well actually it comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but I’m a big enough person to admit that I first heard it in the movie.)

The prompt actually asked whether or not I read fiction and why, but the word choice is what sticks out to me today as I’m currently in the midst of some ridiculously difficult choices which really don’t feel like choices at all given the various alternatives.

“The choices you make dictate the life you lead.”

I simultaneously wish that people would embrace this concept and stop blaming their lives on circumstance while also nursing a fervent desire that fate truly was the master of my destiny.

While nothing – NOTHING! – irritates and disgusts me more than someone plaintively whining about or passively accepting their lot in their very changeable life, I also dream of the ease of letting someone else decide.

Wouldn’t it be nice to look to the universe for – and find! – signs that help you know you are forging ahead in the right direction? Or to simply sit down and pray at the end of the day and know that tomorrow’s decisions are already made? That choices really aren’t choices, and no matter what you do the outcome with be as it should be?

Given my profession, I have my own superstitions – never say the “Q” Word (quite), don’t “tempt fate” by talking about certain events, don’t make plans for vacations during fire/flood/hurricane season (And yes I recognize that pretty much means don’t make plans. Ever.). I also watch football, and I am reasonably certain that when I watch games we have a better chance at winning. (I’d tell you what team I support, but obviously that could jinx our chances, so….) I may even believe in karma. I’ve experienced enough of it to feel like there could be something to it.

But never in my life have I believed that passively accepting the unacceptable is an option.

Our lives are the product of but one thing: We. Make. Choices.

Your choices may, frankly, suck as I’m currently being reminded. It may be the classic “shit or shinola” scenario, but you still have a choice.

Quitting your job is a choice: risk not being able to pay your bills or be miserable is a choice.

Having an affairs is a choice: risk a horribly awkward and painful conversation and hurt someone or avoid that conversation and most likely hurt someone anyway (whilst also compromising your integrity) is a choice.

Buying a car, taking the bus, getting married, having a baby, choosing to stay single and free, waking up late, working out, eating healthy, crossing the street when the light is still red, saying something mean in the heat of an argument, or even doing nothing – THESE ARE ALL CHOICES.

So I urge you – and me – to remember that. Believe that. And try to make the choices that will make you better, stronger, braver, more fearless.

Or, rather, I urge you to make the choices you believe are the right choices for you. I might make different choices in the same situation, but that is why our lives are so exceptional – because they are all different, all fraught with risk and adventure, terror and elation, joy and sorrow.

The choices you make dictate the life you lead!!!!

Don’t let them be made for you. If you do, then you’re missing the point.

Laughing in the Dark

There’s nothing so worth laughing at than our own misfortunes and misadventures. And let me tell you, that being the case: I. Am. Hilarious.

And although I am nothing even near to a cruel or callous person, I have found that it is sometimes necessary to laugh the darkness in the misfortunes around me.

As a slightly slacking enrollee of WordPress’s Blogging 101, I’ve been exploring the wide world of wordsmiths and was assigned to write a piece that expands on comment I left on a fellow blogger’s post. (I was assigned this challenge last week, hence the slightly slacking…)

In my comment I let the author of the very cleverly titled Ornamental Illnesses know that I connected with his sort of dark sense of humor. He quite skillfully addresses his own experiences with bipolar disorder (something he likens to a mental ‘electric boogaloo’) in a way in which I connect – with the utmost of intellectual morbid humor.

I jokingly tell people, by way of ‘easing’ them into my personality, that they don’t ever have to worry about being offensive so long as I’m in the room.

Now, I never intentionally shock or offend those around me. It seems to be a bi-product of my sparkling personality. A personality honed through years of living with an alcoholic, serving in the military following 9/11, and subsequently working in social/emergency services for the last decade-ish.

Add to that more or less being raised by pop culture, and I along with so many of my counterparts have two choices: cope by laughing at the darkness or you let it destroy you.

What does this look like, you ask?

Well, in my experience it looks like a guy who loses a limb and is henceforth and forevermore lovingly known as Stumpy; puns abounding in the face of disaster; someone dies and we put fake ashes in salt-and-pepper shakers at the memorial service; your significant other cheats and you throw an Independence Day Party…that kind of thing.

I remember a colleague of mine was once caught smiling and joking with a co-worker on film while on the scene of a particularly nasty incident where there was a loss of life. Everyone was concerned that this person was going to get smashed in the media – “Public Servant Makes Light of Dark Murder” or “Will Emergency Responders Take Your Bad Day Seriously?”

Some of you are probably nodding vigorously along with the upstanding citizens in the field of sensationalist investigative journalism. How could anyone blame you? These are serious matters to be taken seriously, after all!

People die. Animals are trained to tear each other apart for money. Earthquakes level communities. Fires destroy high rises or thousands of acres of land. Dub Step experienced a period of popularity, and Kristen Stewart continues to make movies!

So ask yourself what you think the “normal” human response to death, destruction, and suffering should be.

Now, what if your job was to deal with that? What if you went to work to train or react to the very worst the world has to offer? Every. Single. Day.

Now think about the endless amount of proof of the power of humor, like this blog from World of Psychology, or this from Firefighter Nation, or even consider that one of the best campaigns for emergency preparedness is based on the Zombie Apocalypse (It’s real people! Prepare yourselves!). The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, and the Center for Disease Control all use this strategy to engage Americans in talking about and becoming more prepared.

Would you advise against self preservation?

I’ll admit – I’m a loudmouthed, opinionated, crude, sarcastic, young woman who cusses like a sailor and whose only saving grace is my undeniable fashion savvy and incredible sense of humor. But, like so many of my colleagues, along with the crassness and cussing (in appropriate company only) comes caring, compassion, and absolute dedication for the people in my care and in the care of my organization.

(The fashion thing is what I call this the Nerd-Girl Coefficient – it’s my own theory based on a certain style that decreases the perceived threat level of the stereo-typed no-nonsense ((AKA no fun)) intellectual brunette thereby making them more approachable to other women while simultaneously giving them the advantage of being taken slightly more seriously yet still underestimated by male peers thus allowing them to use it as a strategy for catching said males off guard and ultimately winning important professional battles. More on this some other time.)

But the price to caring, is that you often times suffer right along with the people you’re trying to help. Without something to balance the hurt, not only do you not laugh at the darkness, but you stop laughing at anything.

So to cope, I find the tiniest sliver of light in the darkness – inappropriate or otherwise – and use it so I can keep helping, so I can keep facing the challenges. I use it to lead me on to the next person, and the next, and the next who might need someone to be there on their worst day.

So, maybe I’m an asshole. But maybe I’m good with that.