Friday, December 30, 2011

Week 4 Update

The holidays suck for weight loss. Period.
Week 4
Total weight loss: 0 pounds
Number of workouts: 1
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 1 (1 better than last week, but not good enough)
I don't have as many outings scheduled for the next week and I made a point of planning my meals really careful, so (hopefully) next week will be better.

I'm getting to sound like a broken record.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It Tastes Like It's Snowing in My Mouth

A while back a good friend of mine requested "the perfect winter ice cream." Not long after that I found out I had moderately high cholesterol at the ripe old age of 31 and laid off the ice cream making. And then that same friend had a birthday, and I thought that maybe a batch of winter-inspired ice cream might be the perfect gift for her.

I was right.

Enter Peppermint Ice Cream. It's another David Lebovitz recipe via Use Real Butter, and it is delicious. I added a touch more peppermint extract to my version, which appears below.

Peppermint Ice Cream
Yield: approx. 1 1/2 quarts
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup peppermint candy, crushed (don't crush too fine, or you'll get dust that dissolves and turns the ice cream pink - you want small pieces of candy here)

Heat the milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan until sugar and salt are dissolved (stir slowly and don’t let the mixture boil). Set the cream in a bowl nested in an ice bath. Place a sieve on top of the bowl with the cream. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the eggs while whisking constantly (take care not to cook the eggs – this is why you temper them with the warm milk slowly). Pour the contents back into your saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium-low flame and stir constantly with a spoon or spatula (scrape the bottom and corners of the pan so you don’t get uneven cooking). Do this for about 5-7 minutes until you get nappe consistency (coats the back of the spoon). Pour the custard through the sieve into the cream. Stir to cool over the ice bath and then chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Once mixture is chilled, add peppermint extract to your desired taste. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After the ice cream is done in the machine, stir in your candy and then store in an airtight vessel and freeze.

And, voila!

Fresh, cool, minty ice cream. The smooth peppermint flavor goes down quite well, while the occasional bites of peppermint candy are a nice little pop. Perfect for winter - especially Christmas.

I'm thinking this might go into my holiday candy/cookie gift rotation for next year. A small container for everyone sends a special holiday wish, I think.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Week 3 Update

Another rough diet week. And then my mother sent me toffee. Today is good, but that counts for Week 4. 
Week 3
Total weight loss: 0 pounds (sigh)
Number of workouts: 1
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 0
I'll be better next week, I promise.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fear's End

The end of the year is approaching, and like most people, this prompts me to reflect on everything the past 12 months have brought. It makes me think about where I was a year ago, how far I've traveled, and where I've ended up. It reminds me of all that I've learned. More than anything, it shows me that I am no longer afraid.

A year and a half ago, when my divorce was finalized, I was terrified. I was afraid of being alone for the rest of my life, and I questioned whether something was better than nothing. I worried that I rejected the only person who would ever love me. I feared that others would reject me in the same way. I clung to what was safe and familiar and I made some choices that I don't care to repeat. 

I took a break, I regrouped, and I rebooted my life. I took chances. I traveled abroad alone for the first time. I dated - a lot. I learned how to be alone. I found new friends. I kept the old ones. I stood up for what I believed in. I failed. I succeeded. And I woke up one morning last week and I realized that I'm not afraid anymore.

I'm not afraid to hurt. I've been through a failed marriage. I know now that I can make a commitment and think that it will last forever and that it might not. I know now that this can bring loss and sadness that hurt more than I ever imagined. And I know now that I am not afraid of that loss and sadness and pain. I want love. I want a human connection. And I am willing to risk hurting and losing on the off chance that I might have love one day. I'm not afraid to hurt. I want to love.

I'm not afraid to take a risk. I know that I can do new things - hard things - on my own. I know that I won't just get through them, but that I will be better for having done them, and sometimes even enjoy them. I know that I want to experience what the world has to offer. I know that I will never be 31 years old and single and childless again. I'm not afraid to take a risk. I want to live.

My life isn't going to live itself. And I'm not waiting for someone else to jump start it anymore. 

I'm signing up for a roller derby rec league next month. I haven't worn roller skates in 20 years, and I will probably be horrible and embarrass myself terribly and I don't care, because I want to experience it and know that I've done it. And if I hate it then I can quit. But at least I'll have done it.

I'm traveling to Paris for two weeks this spring. I'm going to book a flight and rent an apartment and wander the streets of one of the world's most picturesque cities all alone, on my terms, because I can. I'm not afraid of getting lost or accidentally ordering escargots when I meant to order a latte or even being scared and confused in a foreign country and having to fly home early. I would rather have any one of those things happen - or all of them - than feel like I'm not living.

I'm going to keep opening myself up to love. As much as it hurts sometimes - the anticipation and the hope followed by the disappointment and the sadness - I'm going to keep doing it. Because in the process I'm learning about myself and becoming more myself, and those are good things. I hope that there will be something great at the end of it. That something may or may not last, but I'll have gained the knowledge and the tools along the way to give it the best chance possible. And even if it doesn't last, at least I will have known joy and truly loved.

I'm not afraid to try any of these things. 

I'm not afraid to fail at all of them.

I'm not afraid.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Week 2 Update

This week was worse than the first, by far. I ate and drank with friends, went to a holiday party and took a candy-making class, so you can just imagine what my diet was like. What's worse, I didn't make enough time for exercise. I'm irritated with my lack of discipline.

Week 2
Total weight loss: 0 pounds (what a difference crappy eating and laziness make!)
Number of workouts: 1
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 0

With three social gatherings already on my calendar, next week won't be any easier, either. To balance all the eating out, I need to be more diligent about getting to the gym three times a week - at least.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's All Just Fine

I haven't been able to relax for the last few weeks. I thought maybe it was because I'd overbooked myself, with happy hours and dates and cooking classes and travel for work, and I was looking forward to a few evenings to myself. But now that I've had a few quiet days to catch my breath, I'm noticing that the tension isn't subsiding. I can't blame it on the busy holiday season because I'm not traveling and I have a grand total of only two gifts to buy this year, one of which is already taken care of. It's not carryover stress from work or conflicts in my personal life, either. I just feel a restlessness, like there's something I need to be doing and I can't catch my breath until it's done. 

The truth is, everything is more or less fine. And that's a pretty unfamiliar state of affairs for me. I can't remember the last time I said that.

I'm relatively content at work. Most of my personal relationships are in a good place, and those that aren't are probably better off that way. I have a pretty healthy social life with a great circle of friends. I recently met an interesting guy and I'm looking forward to seeing where things go with him, but if they don't work out, I'm certain I'll be fine. Juliette is healthy. I'm working on getting healthier. I have enough money to pay my bills and save for a vacation next year.

Things are good.

And yet I can't shake this feeling that I need to be working on something, doing something, fixing something. I don't know how to just sit with this state of affairs and be content. It feels awkward, as if even though everything is okay, I should be working on making it better. As if "okay" isn't really okay somehow.

I've never been very good at the concept of "good enough." I'm told Type A overachiever perfectionists usually aren't. There's always something more I could do, or that could be done better. The strange truth, though, is that the endless striving makes me profoundly unhappy, but I also don't know how to just accept "good enough" or "fine" either. It's a lovely little Catch-22 I've created for myself here.

I think what I need to do is actually practice accepting things as being good enough. I have to force myself not to take all this pent up energy and put it into making things better or doing more, and instead just let it dissipate. 

I have to put effort into not putting effort into things.

I live in a very bizarre world.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Week 1 Update

The first week of getting healthier was a mixed bag. On one hand, I made it to the gym three times, which is three more times than I'd normally go. On the other hand, traveling for work (and happy hour) means I only ate the way I should have two days out of seven - I definitely need to work on that. But for the best news, see below:

Week 1
Weight loss: 1 pound (I know, it's all water, but still, indulge me!)
Number of workouts: 3
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 2 

Next week will be a tough one, too, with office holiday parties and get-togethers with friends. But I really need to stick it out. I feel better about myself when I'm making an effort, even if I'm not seeing results yet. I just need to remind myself of that when I pass the dessert buffet at the Christmas party next week.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Aural Espresso

This is one of those mornings when I can't wake up. I start working on something and about two minutes later I'm staring off into space thinking about how warm my bed would be right now (it doesn't help that, for whatever reason, my office is still running the air conditioning when it's 36 degrees outside). If my new office didn't have a cement floor, I'd be napping under my desk right now.

Music has the ability to shift my mood almost instantaneously. Enter The Black Keys. This song (yes, on repeat, I admit) is slowly but surely getting my ass in gear this morning. And when I leave on a short trip for work this afternoon, the entire album will probably be my soundtrack.

It doesn't hurt that the dancing in this video is quite possibly the best* I've ever seen.

*And by "best," I mean "most hysterical."

Update: There's some full-blown chair dancing going on in my office. You known you're jealous. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fat Ass No More

I have good news and I have bad news. 

First, the good news: Project Ass-pansion 2011 was a success!

Now, the bad news: Project Ass-pansion 2011 was a success.

I went to my doctor for my annual physical shortly before Thanksgiving and weighed in at my highest weight ever. No, I won't share the number with you. Suffice to say that when my doctor jotted down my ideal weight, I discovered that I've got 50+ pounds to lose. Yes, that's right. More than 50 pounds.

This isn't exactly a shock. I've been overweight for most of my adult life, but I've never been this overweight. And never with resulting health complications, like the near constant pain in my lower back over the last 6 months and my brand spankin' new cholesterol level of 219 (a full 40 points over where it was a couple years ago).

The best/worst part of it all is that I know I can lose this weight. Before I got married I lost 30 pounds by limiting my calorie intake and exercising 2-3 times a week. It was an entirely sustainable lifestyle, and then I got lazy, and then I got divorced. Turns out that lazy + divorced = fat ass. Who knew?

So to counter this laziness, I need to do two things: set some goals for myself, and make myself accountable. To you. Every Friday I'll post my progress and how well I adhered to my goals, and you'll be the enthusiastic and supportive readers I know you can be. And in exchange for holding me accountable and cheering me on, you get the voyeuristic experience of watching me succeed, or fail, at getting healthier. Lucky you.

My exercise goal is 3 workouts per week. This should be quite do-able since I signed up for twice weekly circuit training classes at the gym at work, leaving me just one workout to do on my own. I'm going to limit myself to 1600 calories a day to start, which is completely reasonable, and aim to meet that goal 5 out of 7 days of the week. Because I need a little splurge now and then.

So, without further ado....

Week 0:
Weight loss: 0 pounds
Number of workouts: 1 (32 minutes resistance training, 10 minutes exceptionally light cardio)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: Didn't keep track. 

I'll post this on Friday mornings, and it will reflect the previous 7 days. This coming week won't be easy: I'll be traveling for work and eating out a lot, which always makes it more difficult. But I'm going to try, which is the only way I know to do this, and hopefully make a little progress - or at least not let the situation get any worse.